Favorite Sessions

Josh Ritter: Coming Out Of The Dark Cloudsopbmusic

"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

Tift Merritt Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Tift Merritt On Mountain Stage

The alt-country singer-songwriter plays old and new material, both solo and with the house band.

Listen Loading… 25:52
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/465460741/465461098" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Nels Cline and Julian Lage. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Nels Cline And Julian Lage On Mountain Stage

The genre-straddling star guitarists perform together with fluidity, precision and grace.

Listen Loading… 23:36
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/463034184/463037835" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Darlingside. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Darlingside On Mountain Stage

Hear from the Massachusetts folk-pop band, which made host Larry Groce's favorite song of 2015.

Listen Loading… 20:54
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/461593577/461597052" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Mavericks perform at the 2015 Americana Music Awards. High Five Entertainment hide caption

toggle caption High Five Entertainment

Music

The Mavericks, 'Pardon Me'

XPN

The band has long challenged musical boundaries. It performs at the Americana Music Honors & Awards.

Buffy Saint-Marie performs her song "Universal Soldier" at the 2015 Americana Music Awards. High Five Entertainment hide caption

toggle caption High Five Entertainment

Music

Buffy Sainte-Marie, 'Universal Soldier'

XPN

A cultural icon performs her classic pacifist anthem solo at the Americana Music Honors & Awards.

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor