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4.3 out of 5 stars
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In the US there is allegedly a new phenomena called "listening parties" akin to book clubs where you invite around friends to enjoy and reflect upon a new album. The prospect of a gaggle of excited but desperately pious American's earnestly sitting in a room saying "let us deconstruct that guitar solo on track 4" would I'm afraid lead me to bolt for the front door or at least start the beginnings of a tunnel through the wooden floorboards. Yet it is understood that none other then Josh Ritter's new album "So run's the world away" is now a key work subject to this intense scrutiny and dissection! In one sense Ritter is an ideal candidate for such an exercise, he has quietly gone about his business writing some very classy songs over the years and his work has echoes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon and Ryan Adams. On previous albums like the breakthrough "Hello Starling" and the more recent and rockier "The historical conquests" he has shown that being prolific does no mean a dip in quality and this has led to claims that he is one of the great singer songwriters of our generation not least of all amongst his fanatical fan base in the Emerald Isle. Personally despite epic songs like "Snow is Gone", "Wolves" and "Harrisburg" I have always had some doubts, sometimes its all been just a bit too jaunty and nice. I'm glad to say however that its time to eat humble pie and that any doubts are now totally removed by this great new album

The reason for this is that "So run's the world away" has a harder and darker edge. Indeed the influence of Tom Waits figures here, just listen to "Rattling Locks" which could have sat on the "Mule Variations" albeit Ritter would need to drop a few octaves. In another powerful key track "The Lantern", Bruce Springsteen is evoked circa "The Wild Innocent and E Street Shuffle" with a initial "picking" electric guitar background which evolves into a pounding rock anthem. Ritter also dusts down for modern times the old Blind Will McTell murder ballad "Delia" performed of course more latterly by Johnny Cash as the "Folk Bloodbath." It is characterised by that old chanting blues that taps into something deeply American and he populates it with villains beloved of previous murder ballads including Louis Collins and Stagger Lee and it is incredibly well done. The gentle "Southern Pacifica" is effortless and will no doubt become a live staple of his excellent concert performances.

The key highlights pick themselves and they are to be found in a trio of songs compromising "The Curse", "See how man is made" and the albums longest track "Another new world". "The Curse" is a ghostly waltz which Ritter nails so brilliantly it could hang on the wall. It intertwines a eerie story of love and the sea and is punctuated by brilliant trumpet backing. "See how a man is made" is one of his most mature and probably greatest songs to date. It is moving ballad and signals that at his best Ritter has few peers in the song writing stakes but also in terms of sheer singing ability. "Another new world" is a long almost spoken rolling piano ballad which clocks in over 7 minutes but will pay dividends on repeated listens with its intriguing story line of exploration and discovery which must owe a debt to Edgar Allan Poe's poem of love and loss "Annabel Lee".

Missteps, well there is "The Lark" which is perhaps a bit to close to Graceland's era Paul Simon for comfort (although if its good enough for Vampire Weekend....?). Similarly judgement will be reserved on the pounding "Remnants" while the very short opener "Curtains" is neither fish nor fowl. That said "Long Shadows" is very pop orientated and genuinely lovely closer. Josh Ritter has perhaps been too much of a well kept secret in the UK, let us sincerely hope that the world doesn't run away from this album and stays present to make it the success it deserves.
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on 28 January 2013
As highlighted in my review of Bringing in the Darlings, the reason for a lot of the darkness in this album stems from his relationship with his wife at the time. Not all of it refers to his personal life, but I know from speaking to Josh after a gig in the Belfast museum, that his marriage breakdown meant the this was a more difficult recording and coloured some of the album tone.

Personally I prefer the previous two albums, but still think that this shows an amazing jump in maturity of verse from Josh. He has always been adept at spinning different meanings from his word play and has a rye sense of humour,but here is a more haunting "American Gothic" tone with major hints of Poe and Samuel Clements, as reflected by direct reference in the songs.

In person he is a warm outgoing human being with a sincere air about him and I encourage you to listen to his lyrics repeatedly to hear those hints of how all was not well with him at that time.

The new album is a blatant biography of his eventual marriage breakdown and this he personally states on his official web page.

Call this the precursor.

A very personal album that is not always easy listening, but never below very good!,
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on 5 June 2011
For some reason I'm generally not a fan of male guitar playing singer songwriter genre. However I'd heard good things about Josh Ritter so when someone asked if I wanted to borrow this album I accepted.

The first track is the intriguing instrumental "Curtains". However after that the songs become what I hesitate to call familiar singer songwriter fare.

That's not to say there aren't good songs. "Southern Pacific" is excellent and "Folk Bloodbath" is clever and funny. "Another New World" comes from a great idea but drags on a bit too long.

Overrall though Ritter's voice and songwriting aren't quite good enough to make you wait with baited breath for the next song
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on 11 April 2015
This is no 'golden age of radio', 'hello starling' or the even more brilliant 'animal years', its an artist who's lost his muse. Thats very sad but its the only honest assessment of this album you'll find on here. I can find no gem in its midst to make the experience of hearing this work pleasant. I haven't bought a Joss Ritter album since -if i could believe some of the reviews of later work i might be tempted but when people write so positively about an album which is really so poor i have to question what is said about the more recent stuff. I'd love to be wrong but as far as this album is concerned it won't be ever played by me again and i couldn't recommend it to anyone.
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on 25 June 2010
Josh Ritter first came to my attention with the Hello Starling album and I have been a fan ever since. So Runs The World Away is wonderful, full of great, idiosyncratic songwriting. It is worth the price of admission for a song called The Curse, but everything here is up to his usual high standard. I can't recommend him highly enough. For your listening pleasure...
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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2010
Just to share something with you, this is what happens in my house every time a new Josh Ritter album is released:
1/Pre order from Amazon as soon as is humanly possible and work self into a frenzy waiting for it to arrive
2/Receive in the post and tear package open, then treat disc with reverence whilst putting in the stereo for a first listen
3/Listen to the whole thing in one go and think to myself "Well....yes it's *good*...but..." and have a faint feeling of disappointment
4/Go about daily business and find myself humming several of the tunes, smile to myself and curse Mr Ritter!

For this is his genius - he crafts these albums (which are all to some extent concept albums although never publicised as such) and lets them out into the world without much fanfare, confident that they will do their thing and seep into your consciousness with you hardly noticing that you've put the thing on to play *again* just to scratch the mental itch.

'So Runs' takes elements from the last two albums 'The Animal Years' and 'Historical Conquests' and weaves them together into a sound which is by now unmistakably Josh Ritter. He has managed the trick of moving further away from the standard Guy and Guitar Americana sound without losing his cred as a singer/songwriter. It was a smart move to have Sam Kassirer produce this time round, as a long time member of Josh's touring band he has an innate understanding of the man and the sound and balances the record beautifully. We have none of the problem of the mix outshadowing the vocals that was sometimes heard on 'Conquests'.

As for the material, there are several stand outs - including 'The Curse' which is a tale of doomed love between a Mummy and an Archaeologist which has a certain sort of charm where it could equally have been lifted from the pages of a children's story book. It also nicely dovetails the tale of doomed lovers in 'The last temptation of Adam' from the last album.

'Folk Bloodbath' is a neat take on the Stacko'lee standard, and as the body count racks up Josh keeps the plaintive refrain of 'The Angels laid them away' which puts me to mind of how the Carter Family would handle the subject of a massacre.

There is also the unmistakeable influence of brand new wife Dawn Landes in the jaunty and carefree 'Lark', and Josh provides the singalong anthem for the live shows in the form of 'Lantern' which is an insistent, catchy feelgood number.

As an album in it's entirety, this is as close to perfection as he has gotten yet, so I have to give it 5. It might be a grower for some, but as from the second listen through I was sold!
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on 7 April 2012
I already knew his music, having his records. But when I listened for the first time to this record, I frowned my eyebrows a little bit. I couldn't give it a right place, could not see the connection with his other records. So of course, I started to listen again. And again.

It was like a slow discovery. It was like the songs itself and in the songs itself there were many little treasure hidden. Luckily I discovered them during some weeks, to suddenly realise that Josh Ritter had made an excellent record. Very well written lyrics, like poems, with clever music.

Sometimes in this world you run into a record, that need the time to be listened. This is one of those.
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on 16 April 2010
I've been a fan of Josh for along time now and with each album Josh and his band get stronger and stronger. With his last studio album 'The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter' I thought we'd reached his best album. So runs the world away is set to be a solid answer to conquests with his amazing thought provoking lyrics mixed with haunting melodies, wise words and each tracks narrative.
This is a top rated album in my eyes, so far stand out tracks would be Another New World, The Curse and the already widely known Change in Time.
I would recommend this for any listener as Ritter's music will appeal to anyone and everyone.
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on 5 May 2010
Another wonderful album from Josh Ritter. No waffle. Buy it, it's great.

(Try and see him live if you can. He's a bit magic!)
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on 1 June 2010
This is Josh's latest offering, and while it might not reach the transcendent heights of his earlier work, it's still pretty damned good. Go and see him live if you can, you won't regret it.
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