Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Elsewhere has been around long enough to do a bit of bragging about bringing certain people to your attention long before anyone else: one of them being this American singer-songwriter whose previous album The Animal Years (see tag) was such a gem.
I just kept bringing it back and named it as one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006.
Then he was discovered by the British press -- although not by writers or radio in New Zealand unfortunately.
That album, although it showed Ritter as a man who could command a pop melody, was a much more moody affair than this often upbeat collection which he says was conceived with Paul McCartney's Ram in mind.
Smart thinking because that was one of Macca's best albums and was the one which found him finding his creative breath again after the break-up of the Beatles. And there is certainly some of that jauntiness (and musical reach) here: horns pop in and out, keyboards drive many of the songs, memorable pop harmonies and chord changes . . .
But there is also a sharp simplicity about some of the tracks where Ritter just sits down and fingerpicks fully realised songs shot through with fascinating lyrics.
Where The Animal Years offered meditations on the unhappy state of his nation Ritter now, perhaps after working pubs and clubs in Ireland where he was welcomed, has loosened up musically and is having fun, but also still saying something.
Some suggest he's more Dylanesque but I don't hear that: Dylan never joked "I want to kiss you where the sun don't shine".
I hear a man comfortable with his art and creative process, so at ease he's happy to take risks and make unashamed pop if he feels so inclined -- which have paid off handsomely here.
If you missed him at Elsewhere last year, don't let him pass you by this time.