Quick Review (LP): So Runs The World Away by Josh Ritter

so runs the world away ritter Josh Ritter
So Runs The World Away
Pytheas; 2010

My Rating: B+

Best Tracks: “Change of Time”, “Southern Pacific”, “Lark”, “Long Shadows”, “Orbital”

The world may be running away, but Josh Ritter’s 6th LP finds him slowing things down. More meditative than Ritter’s past efforts, this record is no less dense with lyrical majesty and lush with orchestration. It’s not an “easy” album by any means, especially for those who have come to love Ritter especially for the big-hearted Americana of Hello Starling and The Animal Years. Nevertheless, it’s an album that asks you to surrender, with the payoff to follow. The poppiest songs (“Lark” and “Lantern”) are buried in the album’s mid-section, sandwiched between two of the record’s most obtuse tracks (“Folk Bloodbath” and “The Remnant”), and the rest of the record is more dream-like and/or cinematic than anything Ritter has come up with before. What we have here is a musician once heralded as a latter-day Dylan achieving a heartland synthesis of Simon and Springsteen. That’s an interesting development. So Runs the World Away may not grab you with the immediacy of some of Ritter’s past work, but with a little bit of patience you’ll see some real genius begin to unfold.

Paste review
Metacritic reviews

Quick Review (LP): Heaven Is Whenever by The Hold Steady

the hold steady heaven is whenever The Hold Steady
Heaven Is Whenever
Vagrant; 2010

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “The Sweet Part of the City”, “We Can Get Together”, “The Weekenders”

There is a true authenticity to this music, and I certainly don’t think comparisons to Springsteen are unfounded. After all, what draws me in is the gorgeous sound, a great mix of twangy Americana and anthemic classic rock. Lyrically, there’s a hefty sense of midwest nostalgia, and when you really listen closely, you get the feeling in your gut that Craig Finn knows what in tarnation he’s doing as a songwriter. If forced to draw a direct comparison, I’d say The Hold Steady remind me most of Counting Crows without all the daydream believing. Still, Finn draws together “heavenly” themes quite nicely on this record, leading to a strong sense of cohesion. Given the melodic density and dramatic riffage contained herein, that puts this in the running for one of the year’s best.

Pitchfork review
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Metacritic reviews