Just Joshin’


Life could not be better for Josh Ritter right now as signalled by an upcoming return to his spiritual home, writes Paul Fennessy

Josh Ritter loves Ireland. From our musicians (“Bono’s an entertainer and I’m always entertained by him”) to the unique mannerisms of Irish crowds, he is constantly singing the praises of our humble Emerald Isle.

Unlike most musicians who might occasionally stop off in Dublin if we’re lucky, Ritter has chosen to embark on an extensive ten-date tour of this country, having already played here last year.

John RItterHowever, the relationship is clearly characterised by mutual affection, as Ritter was continually captivating crowds on these shores, even before anyone had even heard of him in his native America. But what is it that makes his music resonate so much with Irish people?

“I remember the first time I played was in Whelans opening for Glen [Hansard, Ritter’s longtime friend] and I hadn’t played in front of that many people before, especially not people who yell at you. And I really liked that, I thought it was a great moment and I don’t know if I played well or not, but I do remember that it felt like it was an open communication.”

Evidently, Irish music fans know a good thing when they see it, as his star has risen considerably overseas since his Irish breakthrough. Nowadays, as a result, he gets invited to plays shows at Central Park, as well as being offered slots on the David Letterman show.

Moreover, last April, the singer got married. Half-expecting a haranguing for making reference to his personal life, otwo is relieved when Ritter replies courteously when asked if this transition will prompt a radical departure in his music.

“It just changes what you think about really,” he says. “It just changes who you are on a fundamental level and there’s loads of other responsibilities too.”

“The challenge is just to keep on working as your life changes. I don’t think it affects my music, but there aren’t many other things in life that can make you jump up and make you realise what you’re playing music for and what you’re writing music for.”

Following this momentous occasion, Ritter reverted to type and headed for the recording studio. He describes the result of his endeavours, which is due out in the New Year, as “a big kind of tapestry of oil painting that I’m really proud of… I listen to it a lot,” he admits.

Evidently not all songwriters adhere to Noel Gallagher’s rather simplistic method of using a rhyming dictionary to write songs. Ritter claims that creating one song in particular, constituted an incredibly arduous process that took “eight or nine drafts over a couple of weeks” to complete. Well, whatever the result, you can be sure there will be at least one yeller in Whelan’s.

Josh Ritter played Whelans last week.