I am unveiling something new here at Fuel/Friends today that I hope will become a new regular feature, linking us together in the dogged and thoughtful pursuit of music that means something to us personally.
Josh Ritter‘s team and I have come up with an idea to create a new endeavor called the Fuel/Friends Album Club, modeled after a book club. I am looking for five to ten thoughtful readers who would like to listen to & absorb the intimate, personal new Josh Ritter record with me, help come up with some questions for Josh about the album (which he will answer on my site) and then everyone in the Fuel/Friends Album Club gets to come to Josh’s show at Denver’s Ogden Theatre on March 27, with time to meet & talk with Josh.
The Beast In Its Tracks (out next week) is a striking record, and there are many threads to discuss. You can stream the entire album here on NPR this week, and you should do that. Everyone picked for Album Club gets the new record from me for free.
Interested in being considered for Album Club?
Please email me ASAP. (edit: I’ve got more than enough wonderful entrants. Thanks!)
I am also very deeply pleased to feature this piece of guest writing today.
written by An Anonymous, Sweet Friend of Heather’s
It is a weird thing to be scared to press play on a record, especially when you love music, but that’s where I found myself with Josh Ritter’s new album The Beast In Its Tracks. See, I had just lived the stories I knew it contained, just had the love of my life leave, just had my world flipped upside down and lit on fire, and I wasn’t sure I was in a place where I could handle having those tales sung back to me. A funny thing happened, though, when I did finally scrape together the courage to hit play: I found the entire thing comforting, despite verse after verse that rehashed what had just hurt me so badly- I’ve stood in that cold, lonely kitchen he describes in ‘Hopeful,’ been unable to say her name because of it catching in my throat like in ‘New Lover,’ and been scared of each coming night like Ritter in ‘Nightmares.’
There’s a weird comfort in knowing you’re not the only one to live something, that those feelings you’re consumed by and which swing wildly and without warning aren’t out of the ordinary. The album is a lot of things- devastating, honest, raw, angry, heartbreaking, and full of grace- but the idea that Ritter’s story, and by extension, mine, has a happy ending is what sticks with me each time through, that this winter of discontent will end and that love, which I still believe in despite all that’s happened, will win out in the end. When you’re struggling with heartbreak, and the times are dark, it’s tough to allow that hope in, to allow yourself the belief that you will build a strong, rich life on your own out of the ashes of your old life and the pain and confusion that inhabits the new, foreign life you’ve been forced to start.
The Beast In Its Tracks is a focused, stunning piece of work, a collection of songs about a heart breaking and healing that manages to never crush itself under the weight of its sad, heavy subject. It’s an album that pushed me to a limit I didn’t want to test — and ended up showing me that I, and indeed all of us, will be fine in the end, that a happy conclusion isn’t such a far-fetched idea.