Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter / 2007 Sony / 14 Tracks / / /

The first track on “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter” is “To The Dogs or Whoever”, and it shows Ritter as someone that blends together Bob Dylan with Conor Oberst. The style approached during this inaugural track is a jangly bit of indie rock that will allow individuals to sing along after only a few listens. Hints of the neo folk movement, particularly acts like Vetiver and Devendra Banhart (and later White Stripes) come into play as the missing piece to Ritter’s own unique style. “Mind’s Eye” has some big shoes to fill after this opening salvo, and starts out with a set of guitars that are a virtual mirror of those that start off The Clash’s “London Calling”.

The piano that is introduced moderates the jarring sound of the guitars, and sets up a slower tempo for Ritter’s vocals to work along with. The track has hints of earlier Billy Joel and Elton John, but Ritter’s major contribution here is being able to go and make the track that individuals in the current period can really get behind. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion by the time that “Mind’s Eye” ends that Ritter’s audience will stick with eir for the rest of the disc, which allows Ritter to experiment a little bit more with the subsequent tracks on the disc. “Right Moves” brings a more pop-infused sound to Ritter’s listeners, and the overall orientation of the song seems much more in the easy listening, seventies vein. “The Temptation of Adam” starts off in a slow, morose way.

However (and this is the beauty of Ritter’s sound during this track), there is a sense of hope present in the instrumentation that opens up to allow Ritter’s vocals in. What results with this track is Ritter’s first unqualified hit; if this does not get eir on NPR and countless college radio stations throughout the United States, I have no clue what could. “Open Doors” speeds things up and captures the interest of individuals that might have been put off by the slower sound approached during “The Temptation of Adam”.  Ritter, at the end of “The Historical Conquests”, is a hero; without anything in the way of weak tracks on the disc, it is a sure bet that ey has gained a number of new fans.

Top Tracks: Rumors, Open Doors

Rating: 7.0/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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