The singer takes an emotional and political climb on his 10th studio album
Music has the power to share stories and express feelings in ways that not many mediums can. Josh Ritter has shared his hardships through his music, one of which being his divorce which is expressed in his album, The Beast in Its Tracks. In his tenth and most recent album, Fever Breaks, emotionally intense narratives are also told. The producer of the album, Jason Isbell, along with his band the 400 Unit, combine genres such as folk, rock and alternative country. The narratives throughout the record fluctuate, ranging from warm sympathetic stories to politics.
One of the more popular tracks on the album, “Old Black Magic,” brings out Ritter’s gritty vocal style, paired with the 400 Unit’s crisp electric guitar. This track’s propulsive, dynamic rhythm accentuates the story of a lost lover or partner on top of other harrowing hardships. He wishes for the support that his lost partner used to provide, by the lines, “Don’t you know I need you so bad?/ tell me where you been.” The song unwinds with a gnarled guitar outro that could possibly be a representation of the chaos and desperation in Ritter’s life.
“All Some Kind of Dream,” is the most political track on the album, if not in all of Ritter’s career. While Ritter is not specifically known for political music, he often references political awareness and equality through his lyrics. This folk styled song undertakes anti-immigration biases, to emphasize that America is a country made up of refugees and immigrants that the current President Donald Trump is trying to block out. He expresses this sentiment through the lines, “There was a time when we were them/ just as now they all are we.” Ritter’s closing lines, “Oh, how we wished that we weren’t wide awake/ and this was all some kind of dream,” describes his frustration for the ignorance in America regarding where we originated from. The track harmonizes forlorn allegations with the hopes that human empathy will rise above in the end.
Ritter has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians and artists in the industry, while still managing to preserve who he is as an artist himself. Isabell and his band the 400 Unit influence the album to a more grungy country sound unlike Ritter’s other tracks, putting it up there as one of the best country-folk albums of the year. Ritter continues to effectively express to the world self-change and the turmoil of the world around us, all while making great-sounding music.