Last night I found myself inside The Box, the tiny vaudevillian venue on the Lower East Side. The occasion was a party commemorating The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter (Sony), the new album released a day earlier by its eponymous hero.
Gussied up in suits that befitted the room’s antique décor, Ritter and his bandmates—the four-piece that he recorded Conquests with, plus the four-piece horn section he has dubbed The Great Northern Sound Society—stomped through an hour of rollicking roll, with brief pauses of folk that gave the band a chance to catch their breath while Ritter crooned gently.
For the duration of the set, Ritter was busting at the seams with effusive gratitude and a perma-grin that the girl next to me described as “a million-dollar smile.” It was one of the first nights that Ritter had played the new material live, and he was clearly feeling the love. So was the crowd, most of whom hung out after the show and waited their turn to say hello to and get an autograph from the gracious guest of honor.
Next week, Ritter embarks on a month-long European tour before coming back to the States for another six weeks on the road. The tour will end in New York with a show at Webster Hall on November 9. If Conquests blows up the way the press is predicting it to—Amazon has already called it the album of the year—it will be interesting to see how that changes the conquistador when we see him back here in the fall. I predict an even bigger, more infectious smile.