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Sunday September 24, 2017
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Josh Ritter

 

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with surprise bursts of instrumentation and the images of Ritter's lyrics firing off in manic cadences. What did he say? The song's about Joan of Arc? Casey at the bat? How does he do that? It's a mystery that'll take several listens to solve. For now, just lose yourself in the sounds and the word associations.

Five years and three albums ago, Ritter was a promising, relatively conventional songwriter attracting a cult following with his album Golden Age of Radio. His sensitive side proved a little cloying on songs such as the album-opening "Come and Find Me," his high voice aching, his images overwritten ("I keep you in a flower vase/With your fatalism and your crooked face"). He explored the Americana genre with mixed results, sometimes sounding inauthentic as he slipped in and out of a twang and anachronistic language, but usually carrying off the songs with poignant, winning lines. "West of her, there's a place I know," began the song "Roll On," which ended with the woman he pined for "happy someplace east of me."

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