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Sermon on the Rocks

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Album Review

Two years after 2013's The Beast in Its Tracks, the good news is Josh Ritter is feeling better about things. While The Beast in Its Tracks documented Ritter's often unsettled state of mind after the collapse of his marriage, 2015's Sermon on the Rocks is the sound of a man on the rebound, and while the album is hardly sunshine and cold beer throughout, these songs clearly reflect Ritter's tenacity and spirit rather than the damaged emotions that were front and center two years earlier. "Getting Ready to Get Down" finds Ritter offering a small-town girl some advice to forget Bible college and see a bit of the big bad world, and the tale is told with the swagger of a guy who wouldn't mind showing her a few things himself. And while "Where the Night Goes" and "Birds of the Meadow" can both be read as messages to a former love, they also speak with a confidence and wit that make it clear Ritter is on a fresh road and enjoying the ride (and "Lighthouse Fire" is a more passionate declaration of attraction for someone new on his radar). "Cumberland" is a number that shouts with the joy of new experiences, while "Homecoming" revels in the pleasures of the familiar, and if "Henrietta, Indiana" and "Seeing Me 'Round" make it clear Ritter hasn't lost touch with his serious side, they're both written with sincerity and compassion. Ritter's singing is as strong and expressive as his songwriting, and he and co-producer Trina Shoemaker have given the album a lively sound that suits the album's emotional palette. Sermon on the Rocks is an album where Josh Ritter allows himself to have some fun while showing that his skills as a songwriter have emerged unscathed after his divorce, and it suggests that his future is as bright as ever.

Customer Reviews

So So Soooo Happy

I've been trying to find "getting ready to get down" since i first heard it on the radio like six months ago, this song makes me smile every time i hear it :)))))

Dan F

Get yourself over to NPR First Listen where the entire CD is streaming now. Liked the last album, but this is really great return to form. Where the Night Goes and Cumberland are stand-outs. See him on tour - the happiest guy I've ever seen on a stage.

First 3 songs are very good!

So far the first three songs are very good and homecoming feels reminiscent lyrically of his first couple of albums. Once you get past the duck call sound that occurs throughout the song. ;) I can't wait for the rest of the album.

Biography

Born: 1976 in Moscow, Idaho

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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

An American singer/songwriter with a strong voice, a keen wit, and an evocative way with words, Josh Ritter has built a loyal following as one of the leading lights on the contemporary folk scene. Born in Idaho, Ritter bought his first guitar after hearing the Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash classic "The Girl from the North Country." While attending college in Oberlin, Ohio, Ritter got his first taste of the music of Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch; he instantly fell in love with their songs and dropped...
Full Bio