Favorite Sessions

Josh Ritter: Coming Out Of The Dark Clouds

"I always felt like I was being stalked by that feeling of heartbreak." That's Josh Ritter talking about the beast that exists in the title of his seventh and latest record, The Beast in Its Tracks, an album written in the wake of his 2011 divorce from singer-songwriter Dawn Landes. To the extent that these new songs were written post-divorce, this is Ritter's "divorce album," but that's where comparisons to the likes of Blood on the Tracks and Shoot Out the Lights stop.

"When I initially started writing," he tells us, "I thought, 'I'm going to steer these songs in a really vicious direction.' But then, when I wrote those songs, they just felt like zombie songs. They didn't really feel like they had any humanity in them."

Eventually, Ritter began to see his experience differently: "I couldn't force myself to forgive," he says, "but I could intend to forgive somebody." The result is a collection of songs that are informed by the divorce without being defined by it — by the end, "Joy to You, Baby" sounds like anything but a breakup song.

Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band recently played "Hopeful" for this opbmusic soundcheck, recorded at iconic Portland venue the Crystal Ballroom.

Click here to download an mp3 version of Ritter performing "Hopeful" at the Crystal Ballroom.

Credits
  • Video: Ifanyi Bell
  • Photos: Ifanyi Bell
  • Audio: Steven Kray
[+] read more[-] less

More From Folk

Jason Isbell smiles during a performance at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Jason Isbell, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

Spirits were high Saturday as Isbell performed songs from his new album, Something More Than Free.

Listen Loading… 1:00:34
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/426505568/426556257" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

The Tallest Man On Earth performed Friday at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

The Tallest Man On Earth, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

Swedish songwriter Kristian Matsson gave a performance worthy of his stage name on Friday.

Listen Loading… 59:44
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/426247490/426248213" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

The Lone Bellow performed Friday night at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

The Lone Bellow, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

Listen to the band's soaring Friday set, featuring guest appearances by Leon Bridges and Lucius.

Listen Loading… 57:20
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/426245527/426246074" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Lonnie Holley performs at the 2014 Pickathon festival. David Blanchard/opbmusic hide caption

itoggle caption David Blanchard/opbmusic

Favorite Sessions

Lonnie Holley, 'Kilimanjaro Eyes'

Watch the singer perform "Kilimanjaro Eyes" on the Woods Stage at the 2014 Pickathon festival.

Joe Pug (left) and Matt Schuessler. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

itoggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Joe Pug On Mountain Stage

After a brief break from performing, the singer-songwriter returns with a new album, Windfall.

Listen Loading… 24:46
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/413397113/413403419" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

A still from Myriam Gendron's "Solace." Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Myriam Gendron, 'Solace'

Gendron sets Dorothy Parker poetry to little more than an acoustic guitar and a wry, wistful voice.

Back To Top