Josh Ritter is a freakishly good songwriter whose lyrics ring with the wisdom of someone well beyond his years. Poignant, astute, humorous and fragile, with sparse melodies, his songs evoke Bob Dylan, Townes van Zandt and Leonard Cohen. Recorded in 14 days in an old dairy barn using Curtis Mayfield's old equipment, with instruments that include Wurlitzer, accordion, piano, lap steel, mandolin and violin, Hello Starling is just rough enough to make it real, while still polished and perfectly put together. Ritter's sharp narratives and quirky love songs will make you want to listen very closely. This record absolutely deserves special attention. Josh Ritter plays Massey Hall with Sarah Harmer Friday (September 17).