Josh Ritter, ‘So Runs the World Away’ (Pytheas)
Josh Ritter long ago cast off his trad-folk chains, and his seventh album continues to make the most of his freedom. “Change of Time” begins as a delicate acoustic ballad but builds to a swirl of electric guitar, organ, timpani, and winsome backup vocals. “Another New World” piles piano, horns, and haunting organ atop a mesmerizing acoustic guitar lick, creating a wildly theatrical epic. Elsewhere, there are nods to ’80s-era Paul Simon, classic U2, and recent-vintage Dylan. Ritter’s wordplay can be dense, but his warm, inviting voice makes it a pleasure to unravel.