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Beast in Its Tracks
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The Beast in Its Tracks
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Many of the songs are just like the song before. I tired of it quickly except for the Big City Baby (or whatever it's called).Published 12 months ago by J. Goins
Best Ritter album to date. Each song is a section of a whole. Fans of Ritter will love this album and if you've never listen to him before -- start with The Beast in Its Tracks.Published 17 months ago by Phil Miller
It has been a while since I went out to search the internet for musicand lyrics by an artist - this is onePublished 22 months ago by Plumhunter
As a songwriter, it’s tough to step out from the shadow of Bob Dylan, no matter which genre you inhabit. Read morePublished on December 28, 2013 by Tom Emanuel
This is a great CD! I purchased the mp3 and listen to it on Amazon Cloud in my car. I have a long commute to work and listening to music makes it fun. I love Josh Ritter. Read morePublished on August 1, 2013 by Amy P
I recently saw him in a fairly intimate concert setting(only 1100 seats)& he & the band were GREAT!!!
He is comfortable w/the audience & extremly humble too. Read more
It is good, but not his best album. He is such a good lyricist though - very literary all the time, and I like everything he does.Published on July 27, 2013 by Ruabel
Josh Ritter has been one of the most consistantly strong songwriters over the last 10-12 years. He has released several albums of cunnig songs delivered with an eye towards strong... Read morePublished on June 28, 2013 by S. Finefrock