Josh Ritter

Four Songs Live

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Four Songs Live Review

by Johnny Loftus

Hello Starling, the third album from Josh Ritter, debuted in 2003 on Massachusetts folk imprint Signature Sounds before migrating to V2 for a special-edition release that came bundled with a live EP. But V2 also issued the live material separately, since many fans already owned the studio record. Thus, 4 Songs Live is exactly that -- three songs from Starling and the title track from 2001's Golden Age of Radio, recorded in Dublin in 2003 and 2004 before enthusiastic audiences. (Ritter is a sensation in Ireland.) "You Don't Make It Easy Babe" is plaintive and acoustically spare, the Hammond shines on "Kathleen," and "Snow Is Gone (Hello Starling)" is a rousing, jangling thrill. It's a brief recording. And yet, it still taps into that certain gravity in Ritter's work, that talent of his for camouflaging captivating songwriting behind simplistic chords or a boyish smile.

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