Josh Ritter

The Animal Years (V2)

SXSW Records

Josh Ritter

The Animal Years (V2)

What happens when a singer-songwriter makes a transcendent sophomore album, as was the case with Josh Ritter's 2003 release Hello Starling? It sets the bar ridiculously high for a major-label debut, that's what. The first few spins of The Animal Years, Ritter's third LP, might inspire such pondering, as it drags at first. Then something magical happens. The music opens up to unsuspecting ears, such as when the organ's thoughtful, deliberate strokes cushion Ritter's poignant vocals on "Girl in the War." It's interesting to hear a folk album with more rock & roll production frills, but the effects don't detract from the overall message; when Ritter growls his way into "Lillian, Egypt" and roars into character in the rollicking tune, the song retains its folk aesthetic even if it's ratcheted up a notch. Call it Xtreme Folk. Ritter's back to his sweetly sensitive self on "In the Dark," a slow, nostalgic lullaby that's in no hurry to get where it's going. It would make a nice companion to Starling's "Kathleen." The Animal Years sneaks up on the careless listener, who might rush to judge the album as dull. Are you listening? (Friday, March 17, 6pm @ Town Lake at Auditorium Shores; Saturday, March 18, 12mid, Eternal)

***

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Saturday Showcases
Saturday Showcases

March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Melanie Haupt
Restaurant Review: Nori
Restaurant Review: Nori
New plant-based Japanese concept hits the spot

Jan. 27, 2023

2023 Good Food Award Finalists Announced
2023 Good Food Award Finalists Announced
Austin and Central Texas purveyors make a strong showing

Jan. 11, 2023

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle