Josh Ritter — 4 Songs Live

Reviewed by travis

Josh Ritter and David Hasselhoff are similar…somewhat. Both have bushy hair and both are loved on the other side of the Atlantic. I also believe Mr. Hasselhoff has made a record or two. I’m sure other striking comparisons exist but for the sake of time (and pride), let’s focus on their European infatuation.

Just face it - Europeans are simply more tolerant and much less uptight. 4 Songs Live was recorded in Dublin, and while the Irish would probably like to think of Ireland as its own continent, they are the open-minded Europeans I regard so highly, just a little more intoxicated.

Speaking as one who has seen Josh Ritter live in concert, I found Mr. Ritter’s stage presence to be the intoxicating effect. Throughout the entire intimate show, Josh not only performed is well-crafted folk songs as precisely as he recorded them, but he appeared genuinely humbled and appreciative to be performing his songs in front of a public audience. And the graciousness I experienced is clearly identifiable on this live recording.

The popular track “Kathleen” from Hello Starling ignites the Irish faithful first as evident by the crowd sing-a-long. The song concludes with loud applause, and Josh is caught speechless: “Thank you to you for coming, this is…(chuckle).” Those brief words rushed all memories of my Josh Ritter live experience back. The next two tracks, “Golden Age of Radio” and “You Don’t Make it Easy Babe,” slow things down. While the former pays homage to the legacy of Patsy Cline and the Grand Ole Opry, the latter is Josh Ritter’s closest resemblance to Bob Dylan lyrically and musically. The line: “I’m your locked doors worst knocker. I’m your curtains best friend. I’m trying not to love you but you don’t make it easy babe” is the most memorizing. This song begins with a spoken prelude that comments on the insanity of American politics and ironically dedicates the song to Governor Arnold. Unfortunately, the live EP concludes too soon with the speedy toe-tapper “Snow is Gone.” The song is punctuated by impassioned vocals and B-3 Hammond solos.

If you can’t already tell, I’m a Josh Ritter fan. Go buy his studio albums. Go see him in concert. Buy this album if you can’t download the songs or he never tours in your neck of the woods. The four songs Josh Ritter selects are a nice representative sample of his repertoire, but just when he has you salivating for more the album abruptly ends.

May 5 2005

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