Idaho-bred singer/songwriter Josh Ritter's V2 Records debut follows in the footsteps of 2003's Hello Starling only in instrumentation. While he retains his literate tongue and expressive voice, there is far less humor on Animal Years than on his previous two outings. Producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse) keeps Animal Years intimate but transient, like a circus train crawling through a small town on a busy Saturday afternoon. Essentially built around two startlingly affecting diatribes on the war in Iraq, Ritter utilizes the voices of Peter and Paul, as well as Laurel & Hardy, to eke some kind of explanation from both the Administration and the Creator.
Few young singer/songwriters have quite so quickly won the sort of acclaim that Idaho-born Josh Ritter gained with his first self-released album, which won rave reviews, earned him slots opening for Bob Dylan, and made him a minor celebrity in Ireland, where he's already headlined several tours. Ritter's second disc (and first nationally released album), Golden Age of Radio, makes it clear that his sudden success is well deserved, and based on genuine talent. Ritter's moody, evocative songs seem to reside in a middle ground between Richard Buckner and Ryan Adams, but without suggesting he's lifted anything from either of those performers.
Two years after 2013's The Beast in Its Tracks, the good news is Josh Ritter is feeling better about things. While The Beast in Its Tracks documented Ritter's often unsettled state of mind after the collapse of his marriage, 2015's Sermon on the Rocks is the sound of a man on the rebound, and while the album is hardly sunshine and cold beer throughout, these songs clearly reflect Ritter's tenacity and spirit rather than the damaged emotions that were front and center two years earlier. "Getting Ready to Get Down" finds Ritter offering a small-town girl some advice to forget Bible college and see a bit of the big bad world, and the tale is told with the swagger of a guy who wouldn't mind showing her a few things himself.
The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is the fifth full-length album by American singer-songwriter Josh Ritter. It was released in the U.S. on August 21, 2007, in Ireland on September 7, 2007 through Independent Records, and released in the rest of Europe on October 1, 2007 by V2 Records. The record was recorded in a Maine farmhouse dating to the 18th century. According to Ritter: "Lyrically, musically, and in terms of production, it's the most adventurous record I've made yet and I think when you hear it you're going to be surprised. Seriously, repeatedly, and in a good way." In regards to The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, Paste Magazine described Ritter as the poster-boy of Americana music. As with previous albums, Ritter was compared to the great American songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
In an essay penned for NPR in advance of the release of his ninth studio long-player, Josh Ritter said of creating Gathering: "I had that feeling you get when the sky is suddenly dark before a summer storm; the thunder heads looming at the edge of the fields, the birds quiet. The smell of the gathering electricity in the atmosphere, the certainty of lightning." It's an apt summation of this 12-track set, which eases the listener in with a balmy, a cappella country-gospel opener ("Shaker Love Song [Leah]"), before letting the clouds open up with the one-two punch of "Showboat," a soulful and self-effacing countrypolitan rocker that sounds like a funked-up version of Glen Campbell's "Gentle on My Mind," and "Friendamine," an affable, country-blues boogie with an out-of-nowhere backwards organ solo.