Review of Girl In The War Album by Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter
Girl In The War
Album Review

Josh Ritter Girl In The War Album

The American tradition of singer-songwriters is as old as the hills. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Neil Young; just pick up an acoustic guitar and sing a simple song about what you know. In the spirit of this firmly rooted Americana country sound, Ritter's music is tender, passionate and undemanding. His follow up to 2006's 'The Animal Years' is a brief and charming EP mixing unreleased versions of album tracks with new material.

'Girl in the War', the lead song from Ritter's last record is a smooth ballad of heart-felt anti-war sentiment, taking what begins as a banjo and building to a forceful climax of chimes, cymbals and a beautifully sombre vocal harmony. Ritter's attempt to appeal is mild and despondent, but surprisingly persuasive, as is also the case on 'Blame it on the Tetons', a basic Modest Mouse cover. Sadly, the acoustic version of 'Girl in the War' that closes the EP and could perhaps have been its highlight is rather less interesting without the blend of instruments, and Ritter's vocal efforts not covering its loss.

The other stripped down tune to grace the album presents a much more promising state of affairs, for 'In The Dark', Ritter invigorates his old tune in its acoustic vulnerability: isolated, and the spotlight concentration with which we can observe him and his guitar brings out the evident song writing durability of the Idaho man. In accepting that he must surely place something new onto this EP, 'Harbortown' and 'Peter Killed The Dragon' are pleasing additions, although they offer little sign that Ritter will be straying from his base camp of simple country.

Jamie Curtis

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