Josh Ritter

Hello Starling (Signature Sounds)

ACL Fest Record Reviews

Josh Ritter

Hello Starling (Signature Sounds) Originally from Idaho, currently part of the eternally fertile Boston folk scene, Josh Ritter scored a hit with his last CD, Golden Age of Radio. A critic's darling at home and a phenomenon in Ireland, Ritter draws comparisons to such divergent talents as Guy Clark and David Gray. Hello Starling shows that he warrants those comparisons, and perhaps a few others, but that's also the problem with the disc. There seems to be a glut of young male singer-songwriters these days all working the same territory. It would be hard for anyone who didn't know better to tell the difference between Ritter, Iron & Wine, and Damien Rice. All work in a room that's full of dust, with sun streaking through a single window on a guitar and perhaps a pen to capture it all. Ritter wears his influences on his sleeve, and it's fun to pick out each one. There's Ron Sexsmith, Bob Dylan (the transparently titled "You Don't Make It Easy Babe"), Mike Scott, Leonard Cohen, and Loudon Wainwright among others. There are a couple of well-told tales, such as the unrequited love story "Kathleen," and Ritter even manages to almost break a sweat on the anthem "Snow Is Gone." If Ritter develops his own voice, he'll deserve the acclaim that's been laid at his feet, until then he's just another singer-songwriter. (Saturday, 6:45pm, BMI stage)


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