Lookin' For That Soaring, Acoustic Chorus?
I'd never really listened to Josh Ritter much, but I've seen the guy live. While he didn't make a huge impression at the time, as I was anticipating the headline act Jason Isbell's performance, it seemed like Ritter had a few good songs in his back pocket. After a few listens, it's clear that "Girl in the War" is one of 'em. It's a steadily building tune that soars underneath a veneer of piano, xylophone, and a steadily plucked acoustic guitar. Lyrically, "Girl in the War" contains multiple Biblical references, and ultimately stresses a belief in the need for spiritual and moral flexibility when encountering those who are suffering. When there's a "girl in the war", even the religious (Peter and Paul) know that the "rules are the first to go". Ritter's hands sound tied here, but the power of the music and verse nearly bust everything loose thanks to the muscle of sheer moral determination. The soaring, uplifting nature of the song built around the endless melodic circle of Ritter's acoustic drives home this point with grace.
While "Girl in the War" grapples with life in difficult circumstances, Jason Collett explores death in his ascending, passion filled song "We All Lose One Another". Of course, human instinct gives us a certain fear of death, but that knowledge does propel us to make our lives ones that can be whole and worth living. Collett uses a Mexican holiday- the Day of the Dead- as a means to explore this theme of death. Here, the acoustic guitar and piano hit their sweet spots. The chorus is lovely, melodic, and meditative. It's a mantra. Like "Girl in the War", it's an acoustic song with a chorus that climbs to the clouds.