Opening with intimate acoustic prelude “Third Arm”, Josh Ritter’s latest album The Beast In Its Tracks, in its singer-songwriter earnestness, straddles the fine line of ambivalence.
Having been promised a meal of enlightening proportions in this latest installment, only golden morsels are brought to the table for the listener.
Nevertheless these morsels are devoured and savoured when come by.
“A Certain Light” resonates with steel-stringed clarity, where minor notes are delved for amongst country lilting hooks.
Similarly “Nightmares” seeks to draw the listener in with its paradoxically cheery demeanour which cunningly overlays a black underwater eeriness.
Where incessant midnight trills juxtaposed against hollow tap-drip effects evoke an earthy magical realism— a theme that Ritter has tried to tie in throughout the entire work.
An attempted cohesiveness can be admired, especially between the seamless instrumental transitions between songs, where any residue is organically recycled throughout the album’s progression.
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However it is the encountered troughs in the album’s track arrangement and choice, which ultimately underwhelms the listener.
Where, at wavering moments, the amiable easy-listening quality of The Beast In Its Tracks threatens to neutralize and dilute moments of credence which define folksy nuggets such as urban pastoral “Joy to You Baby” and chromatically-toned “Bonfire”.
Despite hitting the right notes and singing the right words, the slightly commercialised simplicity of The Beast In Its Tracks somewhat devalues a sublime lyricism and musicality worthy of an artist like Ritter.