"This album has a dark heart" - Josh Ritter takes hmv.com inside new album Fever Breaks
Beloved singer-songwriter Josh Ritter makes it 10 albums and counting this week with the release of new LP Fever Breaks.
The album is the follow-up to 2017's Gathering and sees Ritter working with country keyman Jason Isbell, working and recording in the musical hotbed of Nashville.
As the album arrives on shelves today (April 26th), we spoke to Ritter about what he wanted to do differently and taking his dream to Nashville for the recording of the new album...
When did you start putting together the songs for Fever Breaks?
"As always seems to happen, the songs accrued one at a time starting a few years back. For the album to feel relevant to the times, I wanted to make sure that the songs were written during this period of upheaval."
How did you want the album to move on from what you did on Gathering?
"I was really interested in working with a different set of folks on Fever Breaks. It’s important to put yourself in situations where you don’t know artistically what will happen. I wanted to be in that place of uncertainty. I thought that it would be good for my soul."
You worked with Jason Isbell on the album, how did that come about and what did he bring to the process?
"I really got to know Jason and his family and band when I went on tour with them a few years back. When I got the idea of working with a peer, someone whose work and work life I really respected, he jumped to the front of my mind."
You made the album in Nashville, what was it like living and recording there?
"Nashville is the cradle of so much important and vital music. to be able to swim in that river for a little while was bliss. We recorded in the same room as Elvis, as Dolly. It was hallowed ground."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"Fever Breaks has a dark heart. There is hope, and the hope for redemption. And there is enduring love, but these things shine out against a velvet black background."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"I worked on 'The Torch Committee' for several years as it went from a loose idea to a concrete song."
And which came together most quickly?
"I wrote 'Silver Blade' in an afternoon. That song just felt into my head."
When did you settle on Fever Breaks for the title? Were any other titles in contention?
"The title came to me in a dream. I woke up with it on my lips. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but as with much of the record, I realised that I wanted intuition to guide me."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"I can’t wait to bring this record out with my own band. I’m excited to see what these songs, which have only lived in the studio up to now, can do on stage."
You’ve got 10 records now, how do you go about deciding what goes in your live set?
"It’s important to play a range of songs from all over the catalogue. It’s important to keep your past creations living and breathing. It’s important to return to those past songs and moments, as time goes on, as they are touchstones compasses that can keep you pointed true."
When will we see you back in the UK?
"As soon as I possibly can."
Josh Ritter's new album Fever Breaks is out now in hmv stores.