Watching my guest Josh Ritter stand on stage and perform, you would swear that his feet aren't touching the ground. It looks like he's been lifted straight up by the music he's playing, somewhere between standing on his tip toes and actual levitation. His smile is huge. And you get this overwhelming sense of joy.
But Ritter says the music on his new record, Gathering, reflects four different moods, all vying for attention: Uncertainty, Mania, Laughter and Sadness. He identified them in a piece he wrote for NPR before Gathering came out, and when I read Ritter's piece, I was curious about where and how those ideas fit in. We found out in this session.
Ritter has been releasing records for almost 20 years now. His last visit to World Cafe took place in 2015 around the release of his record Sermon on the Rocks. The following year he co-wrote Blue Mountain, the solo album from Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. This year, Ritter's Gathering features a duet with Weir on a song called "When Will I Be Changed"; that's one Ritter says falls into the "Sadness" category. And, oh boy, does it ever. Hear the complete session in the player above.