Josh Ritter Spectral Lines (Thirty Tigers) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter has been banging around, making decent records since 1999. But on this, his 11 studio record, Ritter has struck gold.

They say space is the final frontier, but for the 46-year-old Ritter it may just be his artistic zenith.

Here’s a quote provided by Ritter: “The Voyager spacecraft went up in ’77 and now it’s out there in a place that no one’s ever been before, and it’s sending back all these messages,” Josh RitterRitter says. “I feel like songs do that in their own little way. They’re probes: they go out into the world, and sometimes you hear stories back from them, but really, they go off on their own.”

Josh’s previous album, 2019’s Fever Breaks was a solid effort, produced by Jason Isbell, it ticked all the right boxes, but never really made a mark.

With Spectral Lines, Ritter sounds like he’s discovering new sonic territory and the results are simply stunning, if not a little eerie.

Sawgrass opens things up with an ethereal piano and some ghostly whistling. Ritter’s vocals are bathed in reverb, sounding like a one-man choir.

“I’ve been told there’s a star for each dreamer to wish to’, he speaks/sings, ‘and no matter how far you may go she is with you”.

Already, I’m ready to stay with Ritter through all 10 tracks, and, as it turns out, I’m never disappointed.

Honey I Do is more accessible, with a lovely melody and hook, but retaining that haunting vibe that permeates the record.

And this is an album to be listened to as a complete work…the tracks seems to naturally flow from one to the other.

For every catchy tune like Honey I Do or For Your Soul, there’s another, more adventurous piece such as Black Crow with its jagged, post-punk guitar break.

If I had to compare Josh Ritter to anyone, it might be solo, Hearts and Bones-era Paul Simon, especially on In Fields, the second to last track on Spectral Lines.

But really, Josh Ritter has found his own new musical frontier. Let’s hope it’s not his final frontier. I want to hear more!


Marty Duda

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Marty Duda
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