Review Summary: Just the expected continuation of his unpredictable course
Josh Ritter has yet to fail in any course he has taken with his albums. Filled with well-informed perspectives on life, and even humorous, 2001’s Golden Age of Radio
and 2003’s Hello Staring
, both equally accredited with the Idaho-born songwriter’s rise to fame – most notably in Ireland – are just as memorable as the more serious, bare-bones intimacy of 2006’s Animal Years
and the biblical and historical recall that was 2007’s acclaimed and experimental The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
. His success is not found in his skill with winding a concept-based album – in fact, he’s notorious for being all over the place on his outings; no, the key to Ritter’s successes are founded in his skill for modernizing the direct folk approaches of Bob Dylan
, even bringing such influences like Townes Van Zandt
deftly to the present day.
And as trademark Ritter, So Runs The World Away
is all over the place, though more so lyrically than instrumentally. When compared to his last outing, Josh Ritter is certainly more intimate and contained in this new album, and songs like first-proper track “Change of Time” and “Lock” even return to the acoustic foundation of his Animal Years
; the prior introspects between the slowly adjustment and changing of a relationship, with Ritter bringing his knack for memorable lines to bare: ‘I was thirsty so I took a drink / and though it was salt water / there was something about the way it tasted so familiar/ . . . it’s only a change of time, love
.’ Ritter visits such varying topics as the fake death of a man in efforts to find his lover in piano ballad “The Curse”, following the death of a young lady in the gospel-flavored “Folk Bloodbath” – even featuring choir-like angelic vocals – and alluding to Christopher Columbus’ voyage across the Atlantic in seven-minute “Another New World”.
The places were Josh Ritter slips up, oddly enough, are the places where he tries to get too experimental, in doing so showing just how dependant he is on his up-front, intimate deliveries. The drum-led “Rattling Locks” takes Ritter’s vocals outside of his more favorable honey-dipped intimacy position for a sort of podium smack-talk to an empty-eyed soul. Likewise, “The Remnant” also takes Ritter out of his vocal comfort position – once again, he is placed in the awkward role of being the aggressor as well – trading his more favorable acoustic-jingle-piano backings for a stomping drum and repetitive piano note. These moments are few and far in between, however - both being sandwiched between stellar songs such as the airy guitar “How Man Was Made” and the poppy summer-hit “Southern Pacifica" - and the remainder of the songs flow rather smoothly in and of themselves on So Runs The World Away
So Runs The World Away
is another strong collection of songs for Josh Ritter, showcasing just how well he can hold everything together when, in theory, it should really just be falling apart. He’s been doing this type of thing for a while, changing from album to album, and this is just the expected continuation of his unpredictable course.