White Rabbit Records - Blog

2023/4 Albums Thing 295 - Josh Ritter “Fever Breaks”

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It was the name of the producer which got me interested in this record, Jason Isbell (if you’ve been with us a while you’ll understand). Then I read the credits and the musicians included Sadler Vaden, Derry deBorja, Jimbo Hart, Amanda Shires, Chad Gamble, this album is effectively Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit with songs written and sung by Josh Ritter. Just like Isbell’s 2017 album “The Nashville Sound” this one too was recorded in Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A.

“Fever Breaks” is Josh Ritter’s 10th studio album. He got his break when, after recording his first album at a studio on campus at Oberlin College, Ohio, he met Glen Hansard (of The Frames and “The Commitments” fame) at an open mic night in Boston and he invited him to open for The Frames in Ireland.

This album does sound very like a 400 Unit record. There is the unmistakable sound of Isbell’s guitar solo’s plus Amanda Shires backing vocals and fiddle (the opening of “Silverblade” puts me very much in mind of Isbell’s “Travelling Alone” mainly due to Shires fiddle). There’s a lot of Dylan in Josh Ritter’s vocals in places, particularly on “Old Black Magic” (a driving, swampy rocker) and “The Torch Committee” where he adds a hint of Leonard Cohen for good measure while the 400 Unit hold it back but build up to a manic crescendo. Last song “Blazing Highway Home” has a very similar melody to another song that I just can’t quite recall, both are great I just wish I could figure out what its twin is.

This is my first encounter with Josh Ritter and I’m liking it, that may be because of the involvement of Isbell and his band. Reading reviews of this album most say his overall sound hasn’t really changed much on this record so maybe not. It’s good to find someone I can dig into deeper.

Old Black Magic - https://youtu.be/37jimrogxMw?si=0S31upv8t9x2fskG

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