Over his two-decade career, Josh Ritter has become a well-respected singer-songwriter known for his narrative lyrics.
Even though Ritter isn’t specifically known for political music, at times his lyrics possess a social awareness. Notable examples include “Girl in the War” and “Thin Blue Flame,” two tunes off his 2006 album “The Animal Years,” which used the Iraq War as his narrative backdrop. Also, “The Temptation of Adam” off his 2007 album, “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter” was a socially conscious love song in a world on the brink of a pending apocalypse.
Ritter’s upcoming album, “Fever Breaks,” will be released on April 26. The album was produced by Jason Isbell, another respected singer-songwriter who is unafraid to speak out on political issues. Isbell’s 400 Unit served as Ritter’s backing band.
The album features a few songs influenced by the current political climate. “The Torch Committee” is a pointed critique of bureaucratic corruption. “Silverblade,” one of two songs which Ritter composed for Joan Baez’s 2018 album Whistle Down the Wind, is a murder ballad, which touches upon issues important to #MeToo.
But perhaps the album’s most direct protest song is “All Some Kind of Dream.” Back in October 2018, Ritter posted a demo version and lyric video. On the YouTube page, Ritter made the following statement: “I’ve always avoided writing overtly political songs in the past, but recently I’ve been so enraged I didn’t know what else to do.”
The lyrics tackle anti-immigration sentiments by reminding supporters of President Donald Trump that America is a nation of immigrants and refugees (“There was a time when we were them / Just as now they all are we”). It also addresses the heartless policy of separating families at the border.
Ritter balances mournful indictment with a hope that human compassion will win out in the end.