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The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

4.6 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 21, 2007
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Product Description

Over the clatter of piano and strum of an electric guitar that opens his fourth studio album, Josh Ritter leaps into rapid-fire lyrics that reference Joan of Arc, Calamity Jane and Florence Nightingale, all of whom seem to be struck together in the belly of a whale. As the follow-up to last year's critically acclaimed album The Animal Years, The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter is his most adventurous, fresh, and freewheeling work to date.
A first run, limited edition of The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter features an exclusive 4-track bonus CD. Available while supplies last.

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You're presently reading about what may be the best album of 2007, hands down, by the most under-accorded American musical genius. Real murmurs, believable ones, came with Josh Ritter's 2006 album, Animal Year, suggesting that the Idahoan is today's Bruce Springsteen, today's Bob Dylan. He's never sounded more the part than on Historical Conquests, the follow-up to Animal. Ritter's tripping over his syllables and allusions on the opener, "To the Dogs or Whoever," dropping biblical and historical images like a fresh-faced Dylan. Except here, Ritter throws in an organ-fueled, ride-cymbal-crashing, drum-hefty clatter. It's majestic, and it's only the first three minutes. Recorded between stints on a never-ending tour, Historical reflects Ritter on the road, quick witted, a master of phraseology and of imagery. Horns show up as color, giving Ritter a soulful vibe on "Right Moves," a raucous funkiness on "Rumors," and a doleful cloudiness on "The Temptation of Adam." More than anything, Ritter here lays claim to absolute singularity--yes, colored by Dylan and Bruce but simultaneously enlivened by something magical and simple and gorgeous. --Andrew Bartlett

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. To the Dogs or Whoever
  2. Mind's Eye
  3. Right Moves
  4. The Temptation of Adam
  5. Open Doors
  6. Rumors
  7. Edge of the World
  8. Wait for Love
  9. Real Long Distance
  10. Next to the Last Romantic
  11. Moons
  12. Still Beating
  13. Empty Hearts
  14. Wait for Love (You Know You Will)

Disc: 2

  1. Wildfires
  2. Spot in my Heart
  3. Naked as a Window
  4. Labelship Down


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 21, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: August 21, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 51 minutes
  • ASIN: B000TD9LE4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,924 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on August 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Guitars jangle. A piano ripples incongruously. And that's all the warning you get before "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter" blasts into music so alien to Josh Ritter that you might reasonably think there's been some identity theft here.

On this CD, the lyrics are murky and convoluted; on most of the songs, the music rules. The last time I heard a drummer hit this hard was four decades ago in San Francisco, and that poor speed freak was still flailing when they carried him off. The guitars slash. The string section, to steal a line from one of the songs, is "screaming like horses in a barn burning up." And yet none of it's quite sufficient: "I put a whip to the kick drum/But the music's never loud enough."

I was sufficiently unnerved by "Conquests" to request a sitdown with its creator. In that interview, Josh made it clear why he'd confounded expectations --- because he needed to. For if ever a CD had generated expectations, it was "Animal Years". The public loved it. Critics loved it even more; writers who didn't see Josh Ritter as the next Dylan suggested he just might be the next Springsteen. Can we talk about a burden?

"People start to believe their reviews," Josh told me. "And the last thing I want to be is another Bob Dylan --- I don't want to be anything to him. What's the point? Sure, poetry is super-important to me, but these songs have another character. They're more about being confident that I can do this."

Josh is self-deprecating, so he calls the music on this CD "nerd rock". He's right, in a way; at his shows, pretty young things will never throw thongs at him.
Read more ›
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The more I listen to "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter," the more I like it. The opening track "To the Dogs Or Whoever" has a machine gun lyric shooting out faster than Bob Dylan's lyrically packed tracks with Ritter singing zoom style, "I love the way she looks in her underwear; I lose my page then the plot then the book then I swear; She makes the most of her time by loving me plenty; She knows there'll come a day when we won't be getting any." "Mind's Eye" tromps out with a beat like a transformer clomping on cars. "Right Moves" sounds like a slightly bent pop song that wishes it were released in the golden age of radio. "The Temptation of Adam" contrasts the sweetness of a Paul Simon folk song with an apocalyptic lyric, "I never had to learn to love like I learned to love the Bomb." "Open Doors" is catchy with a thin drum sound that makes it sound as if it was pounded out in the garage. "Rumors" delights with a slightly tango-flavored beat and Ritter pushing the lyrical boundaries, "My orchestra is gigantic; This thing could sink the Titanic; And the string section's screaming like horses in a barn burning up." "Edge of the World" is a brief instrumental inserted about the middle of the set. The CD concludes with my two favorite tracks. "Empty Hearts" is a polished pop song while "Wait for Love (You Know You Will)" is a more full band arrangement of track 8 with its catchy chorus. While my package did not come with a bonus disc, this set shows growth from this very talented Idaho singer with each track unique. Bravo!
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purchased "The Historical Conquests..." three weeks ago on Amazon, my enjoyment and appreciation increased with each play....music, lyrics and performance are pure inspiration, evokes some of my favorite musicians but is at once singular and unique (to my ears); not having heard any of his earlier work (except for the 30 second snippets), I was taken by his ingenuity and originality of the lyrics........had to see him in person with wife and cousin at Westport, Connecticut on October 8th......he simply and totally blew us away! inspired performance, it felt like it must have been the most energized and inspired performance of his life (which is probably true for all), small and sedate audience had no impact on his energy.....he seemed to lift the entire room up and with plenty of reserve, I found Josh Ritter to possess amazing charisma, energy, and he seemed genuinely ecstatic to be with his audience....after the show he was unbelievably generous with his fans (autographs, pics, etc)...(can't fail to mention a great and talented back up: bass, keyboard, drums, and horns are absolutely perfect together)..."Old School Freight Train" opened for Josh and joined him and his band in a great finale....did not intend to write this review....came to Amazon to order his earlier work ("The Animal Years"). I've been captivated by some artists and moved by their art (Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch,...)but my appreciation for this artist is one of the most exhilarating......great singer, songwriter, performer, human.....next concert: Josh Ritter at Webster Hall, NYC, November 9th....then NYC Metro Museum Art April 12, 2008.
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First of all I second everything the earlier review said. This is a great album with a lot of sides to it.

I came upon Josh Ritter as about 2 years ago and the first album I heard of him was Hello Starling which I think is a real gem. Later I got The Golden Age Of The Radio, his first proper album (there's a self titled debut though, which is only available online and I have to check that one out, too) and it turned out to be a highlight as well.
These two albums where mostly acoustic singer/songwriter-style stuff. Then came Animal Years which was quite a turning point, especially in terms of sound but it was a damn good record.
So how could I hope for keeping up that quality of work? I really could only hope for that but Josh Ritter surpassed my expectations once again.

The album starts off really raw and distorted, almost in a punkish way. To my biggest surprise these songs work absolutely brilliant, they make so much fun. Of course the songs are not monotonous and vary a lot in their style.

All in all I can really recommend The Historical Conquests ... to every music-loving person on this planet. And Josh Ritter fans will be very very happy with this new album.

The only sad thing for me is, that he never ever tours aroung my neighbourhood (Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic).

Buy and enjoy this great piece of music.
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