It's coming up on three years since we moved from Edinburgh back to Northern Ireland. Part of me still misses what is a fantastic place to live, although we are, by now, very happily settled back home. One of the things I miss (and I have mentioned this before) is BBC Radio Scotland, which has some brilliant programming. Two of the DJs who were on Radio Scotland while we were there — Iain Anderson and Tom Morton — became some of my main sources of new music.
Both shows, at the time, tended to occupy the space between easily accessible rock, folk and country, which explains much of the music I picked up during the six years I was in Scotland. One of the artists I enjoyed was Josh Ritter, and my first conscious encounter with his music was with this song.
“Girl In The War” is the first track on Ritter's Spring 2006 album, The Animal Years. It sets the tone for the album: it sounds pretty sweet, and pretty gentle, but the whole thing has bite. There's politics in there, and protest and bitterness. “Girl In The War”, so far as I can figure, is about the seduction, and the frequent foolishness and hypocrisy, of war — aimed squarely at the war in Iraq and the ‘War on Terror’. It's also proof that a politically charged song can be beautiful, too, and can have a seductive quality of its own.
The rest of the album is worth listening to, also. The other key track, I think, is “Thin Blue Flame”, which picks up some of the imagery from “Girl In The War”. It's the penultimate track on the album, but is the climax and the companion to the opener.
Ritter's music has appeared on a few soundtracks. (If I remember correctly, another song off this album featured in an episode of House a while back.) He deserves a listen, especially if you like American, slightly country, slightly folky rock.
And a freebie: