The Beast in its Tracks
It's a bit trite to describe the new album from one of folk-rock's most respected singer-songwriters as "a break-up record," but the disintegration of Ritter's short-lived marriage clearly looms large over these songs. He portrays a rollercoaster ride of emotions, from anger and bitterness to regret and, thankfully, the eventual appearance of hope, of "coming out of the dark clouds," as he sings in an album highlight, "Hopeful." Ritter remains one of our most perceptive and poetic lyricists, and that rich, warm voice still comforts you like hot chocolate on a cold winter's day. What is lacking, and deliberately so, are the evocative musical landscapes Ritter painted so vividly on such earlier records as The Animal Years and So Runs The World Away. He wanted a smaller canvas for songs this intimate and autobiographical, and the sparse. subtle work of his accompanists and producer Sam Kassirer help him fulfil that mandate. There is plenty to enjoy here, though many of his long-time fans will be hoping for a return to the bigger picture next time out.
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