Josh Ritter: The Beast in Its Tracks
Native Idahoan Josh Ritter has earned a reputation for his cinematic narratives about trains, sailors, bandits and re-animated mummies, but his latest studio album takes an unexpected turn toward deeply personal and introspective songwriting. While some tracks reference Ritter’s 2011 divorce from fellow musician Dawn Landes, the album more prominently expresses optimistic themes of personal growth and new love, offering a raw look at the difficult emotional healing process. This new direction includes a new, back-to-basics sound, with Ritter’s four-piece Royal City Band sparingly supporting his acoustic guitar and reverb-effected vocals. Some of the ballads may feel sleepy and unengaging, but the lively offerings like “Hopeful” and “New Lover” boast interesting melodies and textures that reward multiple listens.