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Josh Ritter: Tiny Desk Concert

"I think Valentine's Day is the most awkward self-imposed holiday — even worse than New Year's — so this is an awkward song," Josh Ritter says by way of introducing his 2003 gem "Kathleen." Everything Ritter says is true, about both the holiday and the song, not to mention the awkwardness of the lag between when Tiny Desk Concerts are recorded and when they see the light of day. Still, the gifted singer-songwriter's performance in our offices was the best Valentine's Day gift we could have gotten, short of the immediate cessation of the holiday itself.

Ritter carries himself with the bearing of a folk-singing mayor: gregarious, charming, down-to-earth and impeccably dressed, with a gift for retaining names and an appreciation for everyone's support. But there's not an ounce of insincerity about him, or else he'd have found a way to sing the apocalyptic ballad "The Temptation of Adam" without letting all those wry smiles slip through. For Ritter, singing is clearly a labor of love: He can't hide his enjoyment of a given performance, even when the brilliantly crafted words he writes convey romantic obsession, alienation or outright existential disaster. Fortunately, the worlds he crafts are no less vividly rendered for his infectious appreciation.

Set List

  • "The Temptation Of Adam"
  • "Lark"
  • "Rattling Locks"
  • "Pale Blue Eyes" (Audio Only)
  • "Kathleen"
  • Credits

    Filmed and edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Adele Hampton

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