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To stand out as an acoustic-guitar-wielding folk-rock singer-songwriter, you'd better have an awful lot of charisma at your disposal — and it helps if, like Josh Ritter, you're able to infuse your songs with a sense that stakes are high and words ring true. A prolific singer-songwriter who's appropriately delved into a side career as a novelist, Ritter crafts his words carefully, but never loses sight of what makes them relate to the experiences of those who hear him. He can write a fantastical 10-minute narrative about war, as he does in his 2006 song "Thin Blue Flame," but his verses lead him through a journey that's wholly universal: fear, doubt, faith, fury, nostalgia, love, beauty.
Ritter's new album, The Beast in Its Tracks, is by any definition a breakup record; he wrote it following his own divorce, and every song finds him picking through a relationship's wreckage in pursuit of root causes and, ultimately, a way forward. For this performance, Ritter and The Royal City Band performed The Beast in Its Tracks in its entirety live at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, originally webcast live on NPR Music on Mar. 4, 2013, with hosts Rita Houston (WFUV) and Bob Boilen (All Songs Considered).
Producers: Saidah Blount, Mito Habe-Evans, Amy Schriefer; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Christopher Farber, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, A.J. Wilhelm; Hosted by: Bob Boilen, Rita Houston; Special Thanks to: Le Poisson Rouge; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins.