Two years ago, Josh Ritter was in the recording studio with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, recording the cowboy songs they’d co-written for Weir’s first solo record in nearly three decades. The result, Blue Mountain, was released last fall, bringing with it a country-fried sound rooted in Wild West twang, campfire crooning and other glimpses of America’s rural past.
The two resume their partnership with “When Will I Be Changed,” a track from Ritter’s upcoming album, Gathering. Written by Ritter, the song pitches its tent midway between the country, gospel and soul camps, with thickly stacked harmonies that evoke the Dead’s own folk-rock classic American Beauty. Appropriately, Weir lends his warm, weathered voice to two verses. Behind him, a swirl of guitars, organ and brass turns the song into some sort of Americana hymn, with Ritter begging the world — or maybe its creator — to help him transform sin into salvation.
“Working with Josh is about as much adventure as a fella can handle,” says Weir. “I’m nowhere near done with this guy.”
Gathering arrives September 22nd, exactly one month before Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band kick off their international tour at the Granada Theater in Dallas. They’ll remain on the road through the beginning of 2018, eventually wrapping up with a headlining performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on February 16th.