Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter's fourth album and V2 debut, ANIMAL YEARS, finds the artist refining the sophisticated songcraft that distinguished his critically acclaimed 2003 effort, HELLO STARLING. As a lyricist and tunesmith, Ritter is firmly in the tradition of early Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, creating transcendental set pieces out of simple folk structures and adorning them with elaborate, literate wordplay.
ANIMAL YEARS is more somber in tone than its predecessor, offering up a dark, introspective world that takes on topics such as the war in Iraq (like the opener, "Girl in the War"), though always in a manner that is poetic, oblique, and open to interpretation. Production by Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse) gives the album a resonant glow, helping to create what may be one of Ritter's finest offerings.
Entertainment Weekly (p.86) - "He's put some Springsteen-style tricks to good use...adding tension and drama to make his personal tone poems resonate like big-screen epics."
Uncut (p.102) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he cantering, Springsteen-like 'Wolves' and 10-minute epic 'Thin Blue Line' -- building from piano ballad to fearsome waves of noise -- dazzle with poetic imagery and invention."
Dirty Linen (p.94) - "The album has a nice organic flow, with each song a gem on the necklace, but 'Thin Blue Line' is the one to seek out for maximum impact."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] some of his most emotionally affecting songs."