Released October 16, 2015

By Rose Morris

We at Geyser have been big fans of Josh Ritter for a long time. We’ve listened to all his albums, been to his concerts (the man puts on a hell of a live show), and proposed to him over Twitter (well okay, that was only me), but there’s always a kind of anxiety when a favourite artist puts out a new album – a fear that this new record won’t be any good and will ruin the previous ones for you. We’re happy to inform you that there’s no need for this kind of anxiety in regards to Ritter’s new album Sermon on the Rocks.

The sound on Rocks is definitely a bit of a departure for Ritter, but it still contains all the jangly folk guitar, unbridled energy, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics that we’ve come to expect from him over the years. The first single off the album, Getting Ready to Get Down, is reminiscent to one of Ritter’s biggest hits, To the Dogs or Whoever, with its upbeat danceability and fast-talking-blues vocals. Getting Ready to Get Down is a damn good song with all the makings of a huge hit, but the song that we’re most excited about is Birds of the Meadow, the first track on the album. Zachariah Hickman’s gorgeous bass playing is really showcased in this song, and Ritter’s deep whispery vocals give you goosebumps and heartaches. This darker sound comes through on a lot of the tracks on the album, and giving it a more mature feel.

Sermon on the Rocks is a creative masterpiece, and while there are several songs that would make great singles, it really listens best as a full album. The songs all flow into one another organically in a way that obviously took a lot of care. The general feeling of the album is quite bluesy and gospel-y with a modern edge – think The Black Keys meets Leonard Cohen. When Ritter set out to make this record he said he wanted to play “messianic oracular honky-tonk,” and that’s exactly what he did in Sermon on the Rocks. All in all, Ritter has created an incredible sound that’s a little deeper, a little darker, and a little more complex than his previous stuff. Which is saying a lot.