NON-COMM recap: Josh Ritter’s musical storytelling proves captivating on the NPR Music stage

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Josh Ritter | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Having just released his 11th album Fever Breaks, Josh Ritter delivered a dynamic set to his audience with a blend of new and old music. Beginning with “Idaho” from 2006’s The Animal Years, the first two songs of his set were old-school Ritter. His soft vocals paired beautifully with his acoustic strumming. By tune number three, however, Ritter kicked it up a notch and strapped on his electric guitar for “Old Black Magic,” the lead single from his newest album. His band, known as The Royal City Band, didn’t miss a beat in supporting their leader.

Ritter sincerely thanked the audience after every song, and we could tell by the smile on his face that it was genuine. He took a moment to say how much his fans’ support has meant to him over the years, and then got right back into the music. He swapped guitars from acoustic to electric throughout the set, and his band followed.

Also from Fever Breaks, “Torch Committee” had a steady crescendo that made me want to hold my breath. Even with acoustic instruments, Ritter and his band had complete control over their volume and tempo — and their audience. “The Curse” from So Runs the World Away was probably the most attentive the audience could have been. The crowd swayed slowly back and forth as Ritter told a unique love story set to a delicate piano melody. If the song itself wasn’t captivating enough, the unwavering emotion on his face certainly was.

The set finished with the upbeat “Getting Ready to Get Down,” and Ritter concluded a successfully diverse performance with one more, “Thank you so much.” Fever Breaks is out now and I’d recommend diving into his two-decade-long discography as well. He’ll be touring the US and beyond this summer.

Setlist
Idaho
Thunderbolt
Old Black Magic
I Still Love You (Now And Then)
Losing Battles
Torch Committee
The Curse
Homecoming
Getting Ready To Get Down

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