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So Runs the World Away

Josh Ritter

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Album Review

So Runs the World Away, the fifth studio album from bookish, Idaho-born troubadour Josh Ritter, unfolds like a Flannery O’Connor, Jim Jarmusch, and Mark Twain road trip. Equally steeped in Southern and Midwest Gothic Americana, the son of a pair of neuroscientists has crafted his most unique collection of songs to date, borrowing characters from mythology, literature, and world history and letting them run wild in the increasingly adventurous, neo-traditional folk style that his become his forte over the last decade. The elegiac, slow-burn opener “Change of Time” sets the stage, lamenting “battered hulls and broken hardships/leviathan and lonely” before visiting a 1000-year-old Egyptian pharaoh on the deck of a steamship on his way to New York in “Curses.” The voyage continues by train on “Southern Pacifica,” descends into bluesy, Tom Waits-ian solipsism on “Rattling Locks,” and culminates in So Runs the World Away’s brilliant mid-album centerpiece, "Folk Bloodbath," which pits some of the murder ballad’s biggest names (Louis Collins, Delia, and Stagger Lee) against each other with predictable results. Standout cuts in the second half include the verdant, bouncy “Lark,” the stoic, John Jacob Niles-inspired “See How Man Was Made,” and the spirited, quasi-spiritual/science rocker “Orbital,” resulting in a typically fine batch of new folk standards and a high-water mark for an artist already used to paddling around on oceans too deep and vast for modern cartography.

Customer Reviews

Another great album

Josh Ritter is one of the best songwriters around, and this is another cracking album to add to his output. Brilliant songs.

Josh at his best yet again.

Another fantastic album from an amazing talent. This album is one long voyage through Josh's world. Stand out tracks to look out for are Another New World, haunting music along with the story told is reminiscent of 'Wings' and the curse. equally as good as Historical conquests.

Another new world...

This is an album of stories and variety that will more than satisfy current fans, yet taste rich on the palette of those who have not come across Josh Ritter before. In his generosity, Josh had made many of these tracks available to eager fans in one form or another before release, but what is clear from listening to the entire album from start to finish, is that cherry picking tracks devalues the whole. There are songs that are easy on the ear, such as the single 'Change of Time', but there are many other textures, from the hard-nosed 'Rattling Locks', to the simply beautiful love story with a twist 'The Curse'. Every track has potential to get into the mind and grow into a favourite, and many that will be amazing live, as they take on the life and energy that are found in every Josh Ritter gig. I remember the first time I heard 'The Historical Conquests...', I was a bit unsure, but it grew and flourished and now I can't imagine my music collection without it! I think 'So Runs the World Away' will be the same. Download, find a quiet place with your best listening equipment, set aside a hour and marvel at ingenuity, creativity and storytelling of a depth and beauty that is a rare thing in music, and all the more precious for it. Thanks Josh for a musical journey of discovery into 'Another New World', that will no doubt reaveal itself in the weeks and months to come.


Born: 1976 in Moscow, Idaho

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

While his name might not be on the tip of everyone's tongue in his homeland, folk-leaning singer/songwriter Josh Ritter has benefited from numerous positive reviews and a loyal fan base. Born in Idaho, Ritter bought his first guitar after hearing the Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash classic "Girl from the North Country." While attending college in Oberlin, Ohio, Ritter got his first listen to Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch. He instantly fell in love with their songs and dropped his neuroscience major in...
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