Josh Ritter, So Runs The World Away
An accomplished songwriter hitting a creative peak
Since emerging a decade ago as a promising young troubadour, Josh Ritter has gradually grown more confident with each album. So Runs The World Away, his sixth studio effort, is his most artistically ambitious yet. The minute-long opening instrumental "Curtains" is a clue that Ritter is seeking to craft something more than a mere collection of songs; that prelude serves as something of an overture for the 12 songs that follow.
The mood shifts from contemplative (the gorgeous acoustic ballad "Change Of Time") to stately (the Leonard Cohen-esque piano waltz "The Curse") to foreboding (the clacking, clanging rhythms of "Rattling Locks") to whimsical ("Lark," which is as happy and sprightly as its title). Each song is a movement of sorts, and they all build up to "Another New World," an ingenious seven-and-a-half-minute epic loosely based upon Edgar Allan Poe's famous final poem "Annabel Lee." Ritter's seafaring reimagination is nearly twice as long as Poe's original; his lyrical facility shines on triplets such as, "The sea turned the color of sky/ Turned the color of sea/ Turned the color of ice." The short-but-sweet "Long Shadows" serves as a fitting denouement, with Ritter declaring, as he resurfaces from such depths, "I'm not afraid of the dark."