Folk-rocker Josh Ritter makes no secret that his latest album was written in response to his 2010 divorce. According to Ritter, however, The Beast in Its Tracks only came together after he discarded original post-breakup material that he calls “unfocused, full of hatred and self-pity.” And we should probably be grateful for that choice.
Beast is a clear and ultimately generous collection of intimate songs that wrestle honestly with complicated heartache. Ritter croons and strums out his feelings of anger and betrayal, and these lyrics sting. But he also shows his desire to make peace with his wounds and lean into new love. “Praise the time they say will heal,” he sings on “New Lover.” In one of the last tracks, he wishes joy to his former partner—and to himself. This is a work of bittersweet beauty by a brilliant singer-songwriter who is haunted yet hopeful. (Pytheas Recordings)