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Animal Years

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Audio CD, April 11, 2006
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Josh Ritter is from Moscow, Idaho. The son of two neuroscientists, he was on his way to follow in their footsteps when he discovered Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" in high school. He has since released five studio albums and has been recently named one of the 100 greatest living songwriters by Paste Magazine, alongside Dylan, Springsteen, and Neil ... Read more in Amazon's Josh Ritter Store

Visit Amazon's Josh Ritter Store
for 15 albums, photos, videos, and 1 full streaming song.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 11, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: V2 North America
  • ASIN: B000EOTV7U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,274 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Here At The Right Time
2. Thin Blue Flame
3. Best For The Best
4. Good Man
5. One More Mouth
6. In The Dark
7. Idaho
8. Lillian, Egypt
9. Monster Ballads
10. Wolves
11. Girl In The War

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The 29-year old Idaho native returns with his stunning new album. Following the independent release of "The Golden Age Of Radio" (2002) and "Hello Starling" (2003), Ritter was championed by critics in publications ranging from the NY Times to Details. On this, his V2 debut, Josh more than lives up to the buzz. "As a storyteller, Ritter is matched only by his lofty influences" - Pitchfork. "He approaches songwriting and performing with humility, respect, and unforced and unaffected honesty" - No Depression.


It can be a dangerous proposition when an artist decides to challenge himself. Ambition means precious little without the talent to back it up. Idaho's Josh Ritter needn't worry: he's willed himself to great heights on The Animal Years, his fourth full-length and first for a major label. By combining his mysterious, knotty lyrics with straightforward melodies, nuanced, sensitive arrangements, and an unassuming vocal style, he's hit upon a spellbinding formula that confidently stretches the boundaries of folk music. Perhaps his most inspired move was in hiring producer Brian Deck, who's helped artists as diverse as Modest Mouse and Iron & Wine take great artistic leaps. Deck gives Ritter a huge, immediate, but not overwhelming presence, and he adds just the right touches--a gentle mandolin, an ominous piano, a swirling organ, marching drums--at just the right times. The album's centerpiece is the fire-and-brimstone "Thin Blue Flame," a slowly building, nearly 10-minute epic with a simple two-chord motif and portentous, surreal lyrical flurries. Throughout the album, Ritter's complex thoughts and observations about himself and the world at large--thick with literary references and religious imagery--seem sagely inconclusive; he revels in life's shades of gray, content to vividly describe what he sees and feels without hope or pessimism. Tender and reflective, haunting and unnerving, profound and unfathomable, The Animal Years is a consistently compelling, finely crafted work. --Marc Greilsamer

Customer Reviews

Listen to this CD and find out what it is.
M. J. Gibler
Great tracks like Wolves, Monster Ballads, Best for the Best, Thin Blue Flame, and Here at the Right Time more than compensate for a few misses.
Daniel Cohan
The rest of this CD is pretty engaging stuff of quality that varies from excellent to pretty good.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By irishcornboy on April 11, 2006
Format: Audio CD
When the market is flooded with sensitive male singer/songwriters at the moment, how does one find room for one more? Easy, when one of them writes music as timeless, classic and important as Josh's. Mr. Ritter writes beautifully crafted songs; scattered with poetic lyricism and visual imagery that imbeds into your psyche long after the disc has ended. Josh is one of those special singer/songwriters that has slowly built more ground with each new release and quietly he has become of this generation's greatest songwriters. And even though this is only Josh's fourth release, it promises and solidifies his place in history. An equal balance of folk and rock, political and personal, upbeat and low. Drawing on inspiration from Dante to Mark Twain. Josh, band and producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Wheat, Modest Mouse) have created a classic, timeless sounding, American singer/songwriter record. Yet, it also sounds like very much a band, in production and musical scope. With each listen you discover something unique and new. The subtle little sounds Mr. Deck weaves in and out of the songs showcases the man's talent as producer. Strong imagery has always been a major plus in Josh's music. On this disc he's pushed himself into the category of Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen and John Prine (all who are influences on Josh). I doubt anyone will top this disc on my year end poll.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Clarisse McClellan on April 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I became interested in Josh Ritter only to prepare myself for a concert in which my favorite band (HEM) was the opening act, and we'd have to stay through the Josh Ritter portion. Well immediately upon listening to the first track of The Animal Years it was clear that "enduring" Josh Ritter in concert would be no trouble at all. I like that the album sounds underproduced. There is a quality of "not quite there yet" to it that makes it feel more honest. So I listened to the music to prep for the concert and found myself looking forward to seeing him as much as HEM.

Last night was the concert. If you can see this guy perform live, you should. He just looked like he adored what he was doing. I don't think he stopped smiling the entire set, and he was both sweetly nervous and funny in his anecdotes. I couldn't help but like him, and I actually ended up enjoying his set more than HEM's. It was very powerful. A mix of him alone up on stage, him with his full band, and he even performed one song completely without a mic (it was a small venue).

Anyway, what a great way to stumble on an amazing artist. I highly recommend this album.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Androo on April 12, 2006
Format: Audio CD
You can't blame Josh Ritter for getting to this point in his career and feeling some kind of need to make a statement, get a bit more serious as an artist, join the ranks. To me it feels very much like `The Animal Years' (a reference to his early days as a musician, apparently) is Josh saying, okay, here I am, I'm as good as anyone else and I claim my place. The animal years are over.

Many fans will have watched Josh's music progress from his charming, and at times humorous first album, through `Golden Age of Radio' and the breakthrough `Hello Starling'. Part of the charm at the start was that he didn't appear to be taking himself too seriously. Now he is.

But that's okay if you can pull it off without sounding pompous or silly, and of course he does pull it off. I'm not sure I particularly enjoy all nine minutes odd of `Thin Blue Flame', but I've sat with the lyrics and it's brilliantly written. Along with the more tuneful `In the Dark' `Thin Blue Flame' is the unavoidable comment on today's bad, bad world, but one is direct and uncompromising, the other light and melodic, beautiful even.

Ritter's writing is changing: the themes here are identifiable but not so easy to access as before. You have to stop and figure out what these songs are really about, you have to interpret the meaning.

Other things are changing too. Josh sounded, or tried to sound gruff like Dylan on his first record. Now he's almost borrowing Ryan Adams' `other voice' and often sings high, sweet and open, like on the plaintive `Idaho' or `One More Mouth'. This guy can sing.

`Thin Blue Flame' manages not to unbalance the album luckily.
Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Gibler on September 6, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is, by far, one of the best albums I've bought recently. Oddly enough, it's not because it's perfect. The imperfections on this album make it what it is.

Ritter's voice, clearly influenced by Dylan, flows evenly over this CD. He has a way to inject an incredible amount of emotion into each of his songs. It is this power that far overshadows his singing talent, although that talent is there as well.

The music is also layered around the lyrics. It may be a subtle bass beat or the crescendo in "Thin Blue Flame" that evaporates into nothing just as Ritter ends his own climax of emotion.

Every song could be your own highlight. Each person needs to choose their own favorite songs. Mine are "Girl in the War", "Idaho", and the 9 1/2 minute epic "Thin Blue Flame".

I give this CD a perfect rating because Ritter has done something that few artists can do. Listen to this CD and find out what it is. I don't even know.
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Concert tours
Hey, maybe not. Maybe he likes to be himself in his home town, rather than an attraction. Maybe he just wants to chill there. Maybe he wants there to be a place in this world that is, for him, not 'on the road'. Or maybe he does hate you, if that seems easier to believe.
May 2, 2006 by C. McHugh |  See all 2 posts
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