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JOSH RITTER —GATHERING (Pytheas / Thirty Tigers / Red)

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www.Joshritter.com

American singer-songwriter Josh Ritter has for some failed to become as big as anticipated this side of the pond. Others might ague differently, but I am more inclined to support the former since though this is his 9th full-length album he has yet to gain full recognition here. Will Gathering place a fairer perspective on the situation I hope so, as for the album it opens with a brief piece of shaker-like vocals. Followed by the stunning free ‘n easy flowing “Showboat” Ritter is quickly into his stride, and with a stout epic duet collaboration with Grateful Dead veteran, Bob Weir “When Will I Be Changed” and the boom-chicka-boom propelled “Feels Like Lightening” filling slots on the first-half of the recording Ritter has points on the board before you know it. 

Backed by his The River City Band of Zachariah Hickman, Sam Kassirer, Ray Rizzo and Josh Kaufman Ritter has stellar support, and with a multitude set of arrangements he delves into Kerouac-esque territory of the folk jazz induced and at times, dramatic “Dreams”. It comes complete with keyboards, percussion, harmony vocals and even a little radio styled static the imagination of one is superbly fuelled. 

While the productions are sumptuous, the listener is never in fear of been overwhelmed in a surfeit of riches. Or the focus diverted from Ritter’s lead vocal and lyrical content. If “Friendamine” was propelled any faster it might explode as he is powered on by a frenetic rhythm, slide guitar etc as everyone has a blast! 

Going back to “Feels Like Lightening” the accomplished fashion that he leads the line is outstanding, and with wurlitzer, synthesiser and percussion warming the tempo the music smiles. Of a more studious note “Train Go By” and “Dreams” edge along in a beautiful poised fashion and with stripped down production he first delivers warmth and, on the latter a mystical and edgy song set to spark a bunch of emotions and imagery to go with it. Piano rolls, rare splashes of urgent callings and percussion accompany the tune masked in mystery has Ritter go Kerouac! “Myra Loy” is a reflective ode, and though in its way pretty it isn’t among his finest. Not by a long shot. 

Edging into the final quartet of tunes, he races into a country music setting for “Cry Softly”, as he performs a piece that offers a wonderful joyful feel. Superb keyboards, piano and lead guitar lead the romp, and with a likewise uplifting feel (and steel guitar) you have “Oh Lord (Part3)”. “Thunderbolt’s Goodnight” has a warm tender feel, and with female harmonies and keyboards is glides past in a pleasing fashion. “Strangers” wraps up Gathering in an unassuming fashion as the song weaves its gentle, reflective lyrics in a simple but at the same time intriguing fashion. Interesting, though never a title-track or stop you in your tracks affair.   

  Maurice Hope

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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