Ritter Josh

Josh Ritter – Hello Starling


Josh’s previous release ‘Golden Age of Radio’ is one of my personal favourites from the past couple of years, and it deservedly continues to find new listeners as his profile increases, this was certainly helped by a song from the disc being used on the closing credits of an episode of ‘Six Feet Under’.  ‘Hello Starling’ (the title comes from a line in the chorus of ‘Snow is Gone’) is more than a worthy follow up, it’s a stunning piece of work – and one that deserves all the attention it going to receive.

Recorded in two weeks in rural France, the disc has a natural sound and there’s a real sense of space and atmosphere on every song – whether it’s the 18th Century venue or the vintage recording gear is difficult to say, but there’s a richness and ‘rightness’ to the sound that really works.

There’s nothing really fancy here, the songs have a feel and flow that suggest they could have been recorded anytime over the past 30 years, the instrumentation and arrangements are predominantly simple, but incredibly rich in texture and craft – the entire instrument over the eleven songs, apart from guitars is Hammond, Wurlitzer, piano, accordion, mandolin, violin and drums; it may look simple but everything sounds perfect and the arrangements are exceptionally good. 

Re-reading various reviews for Josh, he’s been compared to some of the very best writers, Dylan, Springsteen, Van Zandt, Prine & Nick Drake, and all these comparisons are valid – he’s a literate and considered writer with an ear for melodies that stick with you, and lyrics that make you want to delve a little deeper into each song.

There are many highlights on the disc, the more upbeat songs standout initially with their strong melodies and depth of instrumentation, but the longer you listen the more the quiet and considered material comes across as the real strength of the album, ‘You Don’t Make It Easy Babe’ and ‘Wings’ are both acoustic tracks, but are two of the strongest of the eleven.    Special mention has to go the keyboard player Sam Kassirer who provides two sublime passages from the album, his Wurlitzer and accordion on ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Snow is Gone’ is exceptionally good, and are both moments where everything falls into place and sounds effortlessly perfect.

This is easily the album of the year so far, and one of the best discs we’ve ever carried, and it’s certain to create a real stir over the coming months.  As good as it gets.


Ritter Josh

CD (Cat No: 12793)

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