Grade • A-
CD • Idaho-born singer-songwriter Josh Ritter's last full-length, 2010's "So Runs the World Away," was full of robust, musically grand narratives about love-obsessed mummies and heart-breaking shipwrecks, and proved that the now-36-year-old is one of his generation's best story-tellers through song.
That is why Ritter's new album, "The Beast In Its Tracks," is such a detour, with a stripped-down, stark production featuring mostly just Ritter's unadorned but appealing singing and his acoustic guitar, cloaked in reverb.
But in what is being called Ritter's "divorce album" he split with musician Dawn Landes after marrying her in 2009 Ritter's singular voice is intact, this time exploring the merciless mysteries and saturnine heartbreak that has consumed him, rather than hiding his personality in past songs about missile silos during World War III and Laurel begging Hardy for a gun.
This is not the soundtrack to a party, but if you allow yourself to be entranced with alluring melodies and lyrics about laid-bare humanity, this is an album that once again illustrates that while we might not want to readily hear about pain, in Ritter's hands there are well-told stories to be shared.
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