Josh Ritter Found a Kindred Spirit in Jason Isbell on 2019 Album ‘Fever Breaks’
As one of the biggest names in the Americana format, known for his sharp lyrical acumen and prowess on the guitar, Jason Isbell would be a valuable collaborator for any artist. However, Josh Ritter says that on his newest album, 2019's Fever Breaks, Isbell was perhaps even more valuable to him as a friend and kindred spirit.
In fact, Ritter says, as he continues to make records, it's becoming more and more important to him to make music with the people he cares about. "I find that, as I grow older, the opportunities to make good friends -- for some reason, you can wall yourself off from them over time," the singer tells The Boot.
"What really needs to happen is, you should try and expand your friendships and your human interactions," Ritter adds. "Getting to play music with [my] friends is something that is increasingly important to me as I get older."
While they'd long known of each other, it wasn't until they toured together in 2016 that Isbell and Ritter really got to know each other. The more he hung around Isbell, the more Ritter realized that the community Isbell had been building -- along with the rest of the 400 Unit, including Isbell's wife, bandmate and fellow artist Amanda Shires -- created the perfect habitat for his next album-making process.
Ritter put his trust in the friendship, asking Isbell to produce the album despite the fact that the latter hadn't produced any projects in a while. Per Rolling Stone, Isbell worried he might be a little rusty in the studio, and told Ritter he'd do it as long as they recorded Fever Breaks in Nashville, with help from the 400 Unit and his pick of engineer (Matt Ross-Spang). Ritter said yes to all of it; Isbell's faith in his own abilities may have wavered, but Ritter's never did.
Now that the album is out, Ritter says, he never regretted his decision. "I was looking for -- well, in all my records, recording it should be an experience. It should take you someplace that you don't get to go otherwise. It should be the booster rocket in your life, and take you to a party you weren't planning," he explains. "I just wanted to see where [Isbell's] cool ear would take things.
"And I really just appreciate his music," he adds. "The songs just knock me out. To where I thought, 'This is an amazing campfire to be around.'"
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