When I heard that Josh Ritter’s latest album The Beast in its Tracks was written in the shadow of the Ohio folkster’s divorce, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive. Break-up albums have their place, to be sure, but hearing a singer-songwriter spend an album wallowing in the wreckage of a failed relationship doesn’t sound like a ton of fun.
Thankfully, The Beast in its Tracks is less of a wallow and more of a stroll through the shallows of moving on. While Ritter’s divorce hangs over the album, the songs on Beast are largely about release – about righting yourself and charting a new path without the fog of an old relationship hanging overhead. Rather than writing from the perspective of a man struggling through the messy months following his breakup, The Beast in its Tracks is placed firmly after the worst of it has come and gone. This isn’t Ritter dwelling on the past, but rather allowing himself to look forward and begin to feel hopeful about the future. “I’ve got a new lover now,” Ritter sings earnestly, without bitterness, “I hope you’ve got a lover too.”
Musically, Beast tends towards a more stripped down approach than the artist’s last few releases. It’s an enjoyable listen – and while it’s not particularly pointed or raw, I guess that’s how we all aim to feel after moving on from a lost relationship. (Pytheas, joshritter.com) Andrew Friesen