When Josh Ritter was in Boise last October, he hugged almost every fan at his show. Some more than once. Ritter and Co.—Zack Hickman on bass, guitar and tuba; Sam Kassirer on piano, keyboards and accordion; Dave Hingerty on drums; Austin Nevins on guitar; Liam Hurley on drums—return this week to JR's home state but this time they trade the opulent Egyptian for the dark stage at the Knitting Factory. Known less for his string work than for his knack of spinning an impressive musical yarn, Ritter is a Moscow native whose lyrics flush out the most elusive of mistresses. Some are a pulp of history and fiction, others the confessions of love lost, but each manages to be a song photo of an imperfect reality overlain with the embellishment of a perfect fiction. Whether making love in a bomb shelter in the "Temptation of Adam" or from deep within the belly of a whale in "To the Dogs or Whoever," Ritter's songs supersede what's typically expected of singer-songwriter types, staking out the boundaries wherein we listeners live momentarily in a daydream. In what is sometimes a soft, off-cadence lullaby whisper, and at other times an emphatic complement to semi-staccato accompaniment, Ritter's brand of musicianship is a tangible creativity. But as a session with the band going full-bore proves—and as anyone who was at last fall's Egyptian show will attest—it's not all about the words.
July 21 with Andrew Bird, $23 advance, $25 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Knitting Factory Concert House, 416 S. 9th St., 208-367-1212.