For years, Josh Ritter has been releasing songs filled with some of the strongest lyrical content of the current generation–not the type of praise you throw around lightly. Ritter has been heavily referenced by his peers, his albums have been revered from media to home listeners, and his output has remained steady for years on end. Some people just have it, and Ritter is one of those folks.
Now, we come to Sermon on the Rocks.
Lyrically, the songs are strong, as always. Musically, I can imagine it being a love/hate relationship depending on your preference for production and instrumentation. At times, songs like “Seeing Me ‘Round” get a little too Paul Simon-esque with layers and layers of sound, and the words get lost in the busy nature of the soundtrack.
Personally, I really enjoyed songs like “Henrietta, Indiana”, and “The Stone” that were restrained enough to let the stories shine through. Compared to the busier tracks on the album, it would appear having these tracks remain more subdued was a premeditated decision. On the first single, “Getting Ready to Get Down,” and also on songs like, “Where the Night Goes”, the backing instrumentation shines in the forefront while the lyrics just add to the fray.
At the end of the day, Ritter has created another solid collection of songs. For my palate, the production is a bit too busy and touches on influences I do not really care for. I anxiously await a tour and a chance to hear these songs without all the bells and whistles attached. If you like a bigger sound, then this might be the Josh Ritter album for you.
Sermon on the Rocks was just released and can be found at your favorite place to purchase music. You can stream the album here to help you form your own opinion: