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Beast in Its Tracks

4.5 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Josh Ritter The Beast In Its Tracks is Ritter's first studio album in almost three years. The Beast In Its Tracks may well be remembered as Ritter's divorce record, as it was written and recorded in the wake of his 18-month marriage suddenly dissolving.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Third Arm
  2. Evil Eye
  3. A Certain Light
  4. Hopeful
  5. Nightmares
  6. New Lover
  7. Hearts Ease
  8. In Your Arms Again
  9. The Appleblossom Rag
  10. In Your Arms Awhile
  11. Joy To You Baby
  12. Lights


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 5, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Pytheas Recoridngs
  • ASIN: B00AXGX5HQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,587 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on March 5, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I love silent days crafting sentences alone, but if you put a gun to my head and told me I'd have to trade my maid's room for the stages of music clubs and universal critical praise and the adulation of America's smartest audiences.....yeah, I guess I could stand being Josh Ritter.

From his first release, a decade ago, to "The Beast in Its Tracks," this guy hasn't made a foolish move. As a writer, he produces lyrics that, if they were prose, you'd underline them. As a singer, he's like Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Paul Simon; there's one person he's trying to reach, and that's you. And in performance, backed by a crackerjack band, he's mesmerizing: exuberant, goofy, unfiltered and absolutely delighted to be onstage. No one has ever had more fun at a Josh Ritter concert than Josh Ritter.

This time, newcomers may suspect an exploration of darker themes. "The Beast in Its Tracks" is being presented as a "breakup" record because he wrote these songs in response to his wife's out-of-the-blue announcement that, after just a year, their marriage was over. I understand this shorthand, but I don't think it will last long. As Josh takes these songs across America --- he's about to start a 37-city tour --- I think they'll connect with audiences more immediately than any music he's made. And then "Beast" will become his "breakthrough" record.

For a writer who can toss off long, convoluted lyrics, he's served up 13 fairly simple songs here. And they're surprisingly jolly --- he's not cranking up the band for take-that-bitch revenge songs. He's got a new lover; he hopes his ex-wife does too. (He hasn't totally forsaken clever; in that song's final line, he notes that if she's still alone, "well, that would make me happy too.") His new lover is "hopeful" for him.
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UPDATE: Initially, I gave this album five stars, but after repeated listens, I found it grew old more quickly than previous albums. When I do listen to it, I tend to skip around to songs that I like and ignore others. Other albums give a different experience. So I must downgrade to all the way to 3 stars. 5 was simply too generous, but I'm a fan and I got carried away. Here's the review as I originally wrote it.

To understand this album, it's helpful to look at how far Josh Ritter has come as an artist. A few albums ago, he sang of taking Kathleen home. Now, he's singing of pain, separation, love lost, and glimmers of hope. The style is unmistakably Ritter's, but the content is quite different, much heavier and more complex then much of what we have seen before.

It's not that Ritter has never explored dark themes --behold "Another New World" from the previous album-- but quite like this. There are breakup songs and there are new love songs, but how many songs are there about the hope of new love seen through the light of old pain? Not too many, but there are several on this album. Before Josh Ritter showed his effectiveness and painting just one, easily defined emotion. Now he wanders into more serious territory, blending darkness and light, hope and despair. We see this in the standout song, "A Certain Light." The song describes a new love, but Ritter is speaking to his old love, who obviously still weighs in his heart. He sings: "And she only looks like you in a certain kind of light / when she holds her head just right." "Hopeful" and "New Lover" are both variations on this theme.

My personal favorite, however, is a song that is almost wholly dark, "Nightmares," which I interpret as a visual exploration of depression.
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Josh Ritter with his best work rightly garners comparisons to Cohen or Dylan. Dylan and Cohen have both
written exceptional breakup songs--"Sara" (BD) and "So Long Marianne" (LC) but neither have let their
love lives take over their songwriting and reduce a whole album to "he said--she said" banalities. It is beyond
me that someone can be a huge Josh Ritter fan and not notice the absence of epically brilliant songs(?). On
the surface this album has all the right moves, songs are well composed, musicians are all playing well, and
a couple songs are very strong, but as a collection by track six I am bored to tears with his love life--I want to be
transported to another new world, run with the dogs or whomever, carve our names into the warhead, burn with
a thin blue flame, are you feeling me now? Yesterday I tried to plow through this chick-flick of a CD and could
not quite make the end so I put on Otis Taylor's "My World Is Gone" CD and was truly transported to another
new world. This CD has made me remove Mr. Ritter from my "Buy everything they do immediately on release"
list--I will listen to his next before I buy it.
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Josh Ritter is definitely one of the best singer-songwriters making albums today. Individually, these are very good songs. The negative is that nothing really catches you or stands out and they kind of drive on monotonously for most of the album with little humor or anything unique to break them up.

The strongest part of the album are probably songs 10-12(Bonfire, In Your Arms a While, Joy to You Baby) but I don't think I'd put any of them in my top 5 or 10 favorite Josh Ritter songs.

I suppose most of the songs, compared to previous albums, lack the same imagery or a discernible chorus.

I hate leaving a somewhat negative review because Josh is one of about only three artists I automatically buy every time they make something. But this album was just okay for me.

Josh recently went through a divorce so I'm guessing this album was cathartic for him. I wish him the best. Maybe if you're going through a break-up you will find some release in this album as well and enjoy it more than I did.

Josh also seems like such a nice, humble guy...a rare of talent, smarts, and likeability in the music industry.

It's a good album...just not as good as his others.
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