The title of this album is not dissimilar to Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks and this has been noted . Both are post divorce albums which may explain the similarity. For this new album Ritter has written songs that are delivered in a stripped down format, with voice and acoustic guitar well to the fore. It is this setting which gives the album some of its intimacy and feeling of inherent tragedy. However, on face value and without careful attention to the lyrics, the album has at its centre a bunch of listenable songs that serve Ritter's legacy well.
It's not easy to distance oneself from the content when you’re at the heart of the storm; there may be quiet but there is a lot of tension too. Sam Kassirer's production surrounds the songs with what they need, subtle, simple textures flowing beneath the surface. These songs may come from a place of heartbreak but they end up somewhere a lot more positive and less painful. Josh Ritter uses these words and music to face a pain that many deal with in less functional ways. He’s been given space to express his views and has used it well.
The experience of a failed relationship is universal and these songs take that into account. New Lover starts the healing process and finds the writer moved on and hoping that his former lover has equally found a new space of their own. The music has a sparseness but is not bleak or lightweight, rather it expresses the emotions in a way that does not linger trying to second guess those feelings, but lets them flow from a wounded soul.
The end result is an album that manages to make the listener feel a part of a healing process, a process summed up on the penultimate song Joy to You Baby, a song of acceptance and absolution. From a hard place the beast has been soothed and the tracks lead to a new horizon. Josh Ritter has made an album that will sit well both with longtime fans and newcomers alike.