The Critic: Josh Ritter’s Sermon On The Rocks

JRSermonBy Spencer. Americana should be a thing of the past by now. I mean, it obviously is a thing of the past, literally speaking. But the fad that kicked into overdrive six years ago with Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers should have burned itself out by now. (Hell, if you listen to Mumford’s latest album, 2015’s lackluster Wilder Mind, it’s pretty clear even they have moved on—even if that was a mistake). The shame of it is, there are those who never were part of the fad, who were doing this kind of music simply because they loved it, because it spoke to them and spoke through them. They were there long before the hipsters took hold of it and made it part of a broader aesthetic movement of ironic handlebar mustaches, mason jar cocktails, and reclaimed hardwood decor. Josh Ritter should by all rights be the face of Americana—he’s been doing it since his 1999 debut, and for a three-album stretch that included 2006’s The Animal Years, 2007’s The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter, and 2010’s So Runs The World Away, he did it better than just about anyone. Back this week with Sermon On The Rocks, Ritter is lyrically laying claim to that mantle once again, even as his sound takes a few bold steps beyond all that. Continue reading