All right, PopWatchers, who’s your favorite singer-songwriter these days? For me, the ring’s gotta go to Josh Ritter, who in this week’s EW (Jodie Foster’s on the cover) gets a well-deserved A- from Leah Greenblatt for his new CD, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. It’s the second amazing album he’s delivered in a row — 2006’s Animal Years was picked by Stephen King as the record of the year, and it’s my favorite disc of the century. Ritter (pictured) can sound downright Dylanesque with some of his imagery (“To the Dogs or Wherever” from Conquests), can deliver pure pop a la Paul Simon (“The Temptation of Adam” from Conquests) and, when he wants to, can ramble like an early Springsteen (“Thin Blue Flame” from Animal Years). And when I saw him the other night (a small gig at the Box, the downtown spot where I once witnessed — at an EW party, no less — the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy perform the Electric Slide) I was reminded of something else he does that’s unique these days. Ritter sings with unabashed, intelligent joy — he’s as unafraid of celebrating love as he is of chronicling heartbreak. For this listener, Ritter’s songs cut through all the Britney-ism that has come to define entertainment, and are a pure reminder of why we love this stuff.
Speak up, PopWatchers — which singer-songwriters cut through the nonsense for you?