To stand out as an acoustic-guitar-wielding folk-rock singer-songwriter, you'd better have an awful lot of charisma at your disposal — and it helps if, like Josh Ritter, you're able to infuse your songs with a sense that stakes are high and words ring true. A prolific singer-songwriter who's appropriately delved into a side career as a novelist, Ritter crafts his words carefully, but never loses sight of what makes them relate to the experiences of those who hear him. He can write a fantastical 10-minute narrative about war, as he does in his 2006 song "Thin Blue Flame," but his verses lead him through a journey that's wholly universal: fear, doubt, faith, fury, nostalgia, love, beauty.
Ritter's new album, The Beast in Its Tracks, is by any definition a breakup record; he wrote it following his own divorce, and every song finds him picking through a relationship's wreckage in pursuit of root causes and, ultimately, a way forward. On Monday, March 4, Ritter and The Royal City Band will perform The Beast in Its Tracks in its entirety live at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City in an exclusive First Listen Live show for NPR Music. Return to this page to watch a live video webcast, starting at 8 p.m. ET.
The show will be hosted by All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen and Rita Houston of NPR Music Member Station WFUV. Tickets to be a part of the broadcast audience have sold out, but fans in New York City can still purchase tickets to Ritter's May 18 show at Terminal 5.