Josh Ritter Is “Miles Away”, Yet Close To The Heart MUSIC: "MILES AWAY" BY JOSH RITTER
Josh Ritter penned the new single, “Miles Away,” after flipping through a book of photographs taken from space. It’s a ruminative piece that flits between a sweeping, bird’s eye view and a grounded, granular gaze. Zach Hickman lends his production talents in addition to his multi-instrumentalist chops. The result is a piano-driven song that is solemn without being somber, as the narrator looks in the metaphorical rearview mirror: “At the end of his life they said my father had changed. I suppose we could have been friends, but I was miles away.”
“Miles Away” follows on the heels of Ritter’s ninth full-length studio album, Gathering (Pytheas Recordings/Thirty Tigers), which features a guest appearance from Bob Weir. (Ritter worked closely with Weir on the latter’s third studio album, Blue Mountain.) The output of the Idaho-born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter never wanes, and the album has an abundance of Ritter’s signature lyricism — vivid details and a healthy dose of wry humor along with the heart-on-sleeve revelations. Take “Showboat,” for instance — a tough-guy narration buoyed by bright horns, explaining that “a guy who never cries looks up at the sky with hopeful eyes, hoping when it finally rains it pours.”
While most of us muggles struggle to string together an original sentence, Ritter’s magic seems to never falter, whether it’s in the Cash-esque country stylings of “Feels Like Lightning,” or the aching beauty of “Train Go By.” Ritter and his Royal City Band (Zach Hickman on bass, Sam Kassirer on keys, Josh Kaufman on guitar and lap steel, Ray Rizzo on drums) played to a packed Brooklyn Steel last fall and hit the road again this week (tour dates here). It’s a gathering that you don’t want to miss.