A Good Man Is Hard To Find
What makes something good? I get whipped and crucified and history names this day good. Josh Ritter sings that he is a good man. When the Earth was made, I called it good. Is being good a matter of opinion or is there a scale? Would you consider yourself a bad person, or ordinary, or good?
In My opinion, and who’s to say Mine matters more than any, the new Josh Ritter album, The Animal Years, is good. And when I say good, I really mean it. Good as in when I made night and day and called it good. Good as in now the debt of your sin has been paid good. This Josh Ritter album is that kind of good.
As most of you who know Me could attest, I’m a sucker for a guy with a guitar. Make him sound like an American with a guitar, and you’ve pretty much got Me before I hear a song. From the amazing Springsteen to the campy Mellencamp, from Ryan Adams to Conor Oberst, from Dylan to Tweedy, Tom Waits to Tom Petty, from the bandlands to Wyoming, from sea to shining sea, I’m a sucker for music with the Americana feel. I don’t care how clichéd it might be, but if you name drop a cool random town in your song lyrics, I like those song lyrics. If you sound like you are authentically wearing a blue collar, I’m probably a fan.
Josh Ritter’s last album, Hello Starling, was easily one of My favorite albums of 2003. If you like music from the bands I namedropped in the last paragraph, and you do not yet own Hello Starling, do yourself a favor and order it right now. It’s good. It is one of those few albums that I feel is both smart and mass-marketable. Hello Starling can be equally enjoyed by both the music snob and the music snob’s mother who never buys CD’s. Long story short, I loved that album and have almost been nervous to hear Josh attempt to follow it with a new album.
Well, don’t worry, for Josh Ritter is a good man. His new album takes a bold step forward for him. A good kind of bold step that might lose him some of the fans who were the moms of music snobs, but now the music snobs will love him even more. For example, he has an almost 10 minute folk song on the album that’s not too catchy called “Thin Blue Flame”, which sounds almost like a beat poet singing his poem in a small empty bar. The song is great and when you hear yet another musician compared to Dylan, this is the song that hits there the closest. Because of songs such as this, the album isn’t quite as conventional as the last, but there’s still quite a few tracks that would sound great on the radio. The first track, “Girl In The War”, with it’s political relevance and religious symbolism, is Josh Ritter working on all cylinders. When he sings, “Pretend the dove up above is a dragon and your feet are on fire”, I often literally get chills running up My arms, which is one of the best compliments one can give a song. It’s hard to fake the chills. This album is the kind of album that can do that to you more than once.
So, yeah, I love the new Josh Ritter album. It took Me awhile to accept it, due to My undying love for his past album and this evolution he took on this album was a little jarring at first, but after many repeat listenings, I have yet another album that I am totally in love with. If you like Ryan Adams, but kinda wish he had an older brother who cared a little more about life in general and also happened to be a musician, try Josh Ritter out. Josh Ritter is a good man, and if you are a fan of American music and literature, you know how rare they are. It’s a good day. Treat yourself to some good music.
Go here to stream the album The Animal Years.
Josh Ritter - Girl In The War.mp3
Josh Ritter – Thin Blue Flame.mp3
Josh Ritter - Live at the Rivoli. Toronto, Ontario - 01/29/2005