Josh Ritter

Golden Age of Radio

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Few young singer/songwriters have quite so quickly won the sort of acclaim that Idaho-born Josh Ritter gained with his first self-released album, which won rave reviews, earned him slots opening for Bob Dylan, and made him a minor celebrity in Ireland, where he's already headlined several tours. Ritter's second disc (and first nationally released album), Golden Age of Radio, makes it clear that his sudden success is well deserved, and based on genuine talent. Ritter's moody, evocative songs seems to reside in a middle ground between Richard Buckner and Ryan Adams, but without suggesting he's lifted anything from either of those performers; his quiet but assured vocals and carefully drawn verbal images on numbers like "Come and Find Me" and "Lawrence, KS" are the work of a writer far more mature than his years would suggest, while the more up-tempo numbers with his band (especially "Me & Jiggs" and "Golden Age of Radio") have a scrappy enthusiasm that suggest early Whiskeytown, without their overbearing arrogance. As both as writer and a performer, Ritter displays a modesty that's at once winning and just a bit of a drawback; a few of the acoustic numbers are just a shade too spare for their own good, and he works well enough with a band that it's hard not to wish that they'd be willing to put a little more of their weight behind the arrangements. But the best moments on Golden Age of Radio are truly splendid, and if the album suggests that Josh Ritter is still learning the ropes, what he knows already is more than many artists will ever figure out. Great stuff.

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