Josh Ritter fans received an unexpected gift when the singer decided to randomly drop a six-song EP, Bringing in the Darlings, on February 21st. The set is brief, soothing, and, above all, adorable. Between Ritter’s declaration that the songs are “his version of lullabies” and the fact that the thematic thread running through the tracks is the word “darling” (each song contains it), you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable album for a chilling February day.
Bringing in the Darlings is Ritter’s first recording without his touring group, the Royal City band. The six songs offer a refreshing sound compared to the grandiose sound of albums like his most recent LP, 2010’s So Runs the World Away. Opening track “Can’t Go to Sleep (Without You)” sets the tone with simple chords and reserved vocals. An Elliot Smith-like earnestness comes across as Ritter sings of sleepless nights that make anyone listening want to help the guy out with an Advil PM and a bit of cuddling. “See Me Through” is the most upbeat song on the album, light drums and backing vocals creating a pleasant doo-wop sound (picture it playing as the McFlys share a kiss at The Enchantment Under the Sea Dance).
Recorded in just three days in a small studio in Brooklyn, this is less of a teaser for Ritter’s upcoming LP and more of a stand-alone group of songs that might just be the 35-year-old singer’s way of saying he just wants to love and be loved. Ritter croons on what may as well be the title track, “Darlin’”, “Darlin’, will ya let me call ya Darlin’?… It’s what I need.” Anyone listening will most certainly be saying, “Why yes, Josh, you can.”
Essential Tracks: “Can’t Go to Sleep (Without You)”, “See Me Through”