Animal Years is the 3rd and so far best effort from Idaho Singer-Songwriter Josh Ritter. First album 'Golden Age of Radio' had the earthy downhome sounds of a musician finding his creative feet, second album 'Hello Starling' was a polished collection of songs including the stunning 'Wings', but 'Animal Years' takes another fascinating batch of songs with a common feel or concept and puts them all together to great effect.
As the title hints, our animal friends do get a couple of mentions (like on the stonking 'Wolves'), but the real feel of the album is a guy at a certain point of his life looking back on what he's done so far and admiting that he still might have to make a few mistakes before he gets where he's going.
It is almost as if this record is from a slightly different time lyrically and subject matter wise (there are various references to Laurel and Hardy and Silent movies as well as Egypt!)- but has a modern sound, very nicely produced by Brian Deck.
Josh is a storyteller of great talents. He has equally Dylan-esque vague moments as he does Springsteen-like starkness. He's finally settled into his voice on this record, far more than the debut, and uses its lighter tones to great effect.
He's one of the hardest working men in the business (take a look at his tour schedule!), and clearly just loves to perform (check out the live CD/DVD 'Live in the Dark at Vicar Street'). As much as I'd love to try to keep him secret, he deserves your adulation. Buy this album, find yourself a good stretch of country road to drive, and he won't disappoint.