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Album review: Josh Ritter – Gathering

PUBLISHED: 12:30 11 October 2017

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter

Archant

Marrying dense narrative with evocative arrangements, Gathering is an artistic triumph.

The ninth full-length album from the esteemed Idaho-raised songsmith marks 20 years since his debut LP.

Coming to this record eager to shake off expectations, and with more songs to hand than ever before, Gathering is in some ways a reinvention. But fans can fear not, for his renowned narrative style and dense, evocative lyricism remains, as does his faithful Royal City Band, navigating the storms and undercurrents of the heart.

Jaunty early single Showboat finds Ritter a broken man desperately paddling to keep up appearances and “pretending I’m not sinking over her”, while Train Go By’s plucked strings and backing vocals are fleet of foot, the chorus mimicking the rhythm of the rattling carriages.

Ritter’s duet with Bob Weir, When Will I Be Changed, finds the pair trading verses in the search for self-confidence and the path to redemption, all to finger-picked guitar, soft organ and brass, and lilting love song and album closer Strangers will warm hearts whenever it’s played.

Every musical accent on Gathering is considered, every story is crafted; together they conspire to suck you into the dilemmas, the tumult and the charm of Ritter’s world.

Rating: 4/5

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