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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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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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