Sermon On The Rocks
Josh Ritter is having fun with religion on his eighth studio album, especially on Getting Ready To Get Down, a Mary Jane’s Last Dance-referencing hoedown about a young woman undeterred in her quest for experience after being packed off to Bible school. Throughout the record, he drops references to the Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil and various chapters in the Bible, usually with a lighthearted, irreverent twist.
With Matt Barrick (the Walkmen) behind the kit and with help from producer Trina Shoemaker, Ritter’s made a danceable album of popified contemporary honky-tonk, with hints of New Orleans (where the album was recorded), especially on Cajun-bluegrassy Cumberland, and some didgeridoo on the expansive Homecoming.
Elsewhere are other slick instances of lifting: Leonard Cohen-style sermonizing on Birds Of The Meadow, nostalgia for Willie Nelson on My Man On A Horse (Is Here). Ritter draws liberally from the well of himself, others and the Bible, and it’s a fun ride.
Top track: Getting Ready To Get Down
Josh Ritter plays the Phoenix on February 16.