Josh Ritter’s Fever Breaks

By Brian Rock

Acclaimed Americana tunesmith Josh Ritter turns up the heat on his tenth studio release, Fever Breaks. With a little help from fellow Americana icon, Jason Isbell, who produced the album; Josh delivers another dose of his eclectic, Bob Dylan meets Paul Simon style Country/Folk/Rock fusion.

The lead song, “Ground Don’t Want Me,” is an Outlaw Country anthem that combines major chords on acoustic guitar with pounding, percussive piano, and a throbbing bass line to propel the story of a gunman who longs for the peace of the grave, but can’t find it. Feeling like a body without a soul, he recalls his dear departed mother and all the men he’s laid to rest, and he wishes he could join them. But realizing that, “cards and guns are all the same, each man must draw his own;” he knows that he has nobody to blame for his fate but himself.

Ritter showcases his diversity of musical influences on the bluesy, Dylanesque, “Old Black Magic,” the grunge tinged, “Losing Battles,” the breezy, “On The Water,” the Paul Simon influenced, “The Torch Committee,” the traditional Country of “All Some Kind of Dream,” and the haunting Joan Baez influenced, “Silverblade.”

With influences like Dylan, Simon, and Baez, it’s no coincidence that Ritter himself is deft at creating well crafted turns of phrase. To cite just a few examples, on the darkly foreboding, “Old Black Magic,” he sings, “I’m sure not the devil, sure not his friend, but I know for sure what’s rolling in.” In his dystopian tale of Socialist, bureaucratic oppression, “The Torch Committee,” he sings, “We see your hands and legs are tied, in clearest breach of bylaw five. And left here in this little room in clearest breach of bylaw two. And though you know that we take pains, the process of the law remains. All technicalities aside, you see our hands are also tied.” And contemplating the soul’s yearning for home in “Blazing Highway Home,” he sings, “You know you can’t outrun the Great Unknown… We’ll be here watching you though you may feel alone while you find yourself a blazing highway home.”

If you’ve got a fever for poetic lyrics and diverse folk-rock rhythms, then “Fever Breaks” has your cure.  |  fb  |   buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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