Josh Ritter: Fever Breaks review – If it ain’t broke . . .
Pytheas Recordings/Thirty Tigers
Singer / Songwriter
American singer-songwriter Josh Ritter was able to jettison his fitful sequence of temporary day jobs because he sold so many copies of his first two albums (1999’s self-titled debut, 2000’s Golden Age of Radio) at gigs in Ireland.
He didn’t have to worry at all about any 9 to 5 routine from 2003’s Hello Starling, as that third album set him on the path from being one of Ireland’s favourite adopted singers to worldwide (if commercially moderate) success.
Fever Breaks is his 10th album in 20 years and sees him further hone his deft Americana/folk/pop songwriting skills, fused with his “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach.
There is a tougher framework around this latest batch of Ritter’s songs, however, which is assisted not only by producer Jason Isbell but also by the inclusion of Isbell’s band, 400 Unit.
The tunes may reference influences (Old Black Magic to Bob Dylan, The Torch Committee to Leonard Cohen, Losing Battles to Ryan Adams, Blazing Highway Home to Bruce Springsteen), but here’s the kicker: they’re infused with first-rate lyrics typical of a person who majored in American history through narrative folk music.