December 10, 2005

I became a thin blue flame

So, one of the very cool things about running a music blog, I am learning, is that it can be like Christmas every day when I check my email! People from all over have sent me music I need to hear. This is an indescribably wonderful thing.

A few days ago a kind and enthusiastic soul named Adam emailed me the new Josh Ritter track, Thin Blue Flame. It is from Ritter’s new album, “The Animal Years,” due out in Spring 2006. Josh Ritter is a new name for me. Other than seeing his work on a Putumayo American Folk compilation CD (You Don’t Make It Easy Babe), I had not heard him before, so this was a treat.

Josh Ritter is a singer-songwriter from Idaho who has been steadily building acclaim for his quality releases over the past few years. Critics have compared his work to the “sparse elegance of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, the gritty passion of Neil Young’s Harvest, and the melodic charm of Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman.” I recently read an interview with Cameron Crowe that said Ritter was favored to be on the Elizabethtown soundtrack (along with many other excellent artists, as Crowe is best for), but unfortunately ended up being left off. Ritter is signed with V2 Records (the White Stripes, Grandaddy).

If you like Damien Rice and David Gray, you will probably like this song. The length and the story-telling aspct of it also reminds me a bit of Dylan. Ritter’s new album is produced by Brian Deck, who has recently worked with Iron & Wine and Modest Mouse. Deck’s production on this song includes background chatter and glasses clinking, which adds to the sense of immediacy, as if this song is being performed live for you in a small coffee shop or dark bar. It clocks in at almost ten minutes, and I personally enjoyed listening to it on repeat while drifting off to sleep. It starts slow and builds several times and then fades, and it contains some stunning lyrics that create beautiful mental images (complete lyrics here):

The old hometown and the streets I knew
wrapped up in a royal blue
I heard my friends laughing out across the fields . . .
the raw smell of horses and the warm smell of hay
Cicadas electric in the heat of the day . . .
The lake was a diamond in the valley’s hand.

Thin Blue Flame,” Josh Ritter

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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