Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MUSIC: Gazette Review - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

This is a highly advanced album.

Josh Ritter’s follow up to last year’s The Animal Years does it all. It jumps, flips, jabs, prods, pokes and plunders the brain in ways you never thought possible. The only thing it does not do, fortunately, is disappoint.

Ritter’s lyrics remain sharply honed, examining affairs both political and of the heart, from lovers (Or are they?) in a bomb shelter at the end of the world [literally] (“The Temptation of Adam”) to a bareback riding Casanova of the old west (“The Next to the Last Romantic”). The lyrical theme of the album seems to be “love is sometimes tough for a genuinely nice guy,” although that could just be part of Ritter’s natural charm that comes through in his songs (or my penchant for singer-songwriters who seem vaguely Irish).

Musically, things have never been weirder. It’s difficult to write on a specific point of comparison, not only because of the musical diversity on the record, but because of the fresh perspective Ritter brings to all of those familiar classic rock and roll influences. The only thing that any of these tracks have in common is how different (and entertaining) they all are.

If anyone ever refers to this as a “concept album,” please take this author’s word for it that despite any presumptions you have about that sort of thing, it will be one of your top musical purchase of 2007 (unless you happen to buy a Bouzouki, which would be pretty damn cool.).

The only possible label to put on this music, to borrow a phrase, is “Classic Rock of the Future.” (But I’m sure they’ll still file it under “Folk-Rock”)