Every album throws up questions. The big one listening to this is why some people still won't afford Josh Ritter the same kudos as Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, Mark Lanegan and others. Yes, they're right: he's got a lighter touch, but the craft and depth of 'So the World Runs Away' deserve to be heard by more than just the devoted.

Ritter has revealed he had problems with writer's block while searching for these songs, but he's built up bigger muscles from budging it. With dreams ('Change of Time'), mummies ('The Curse'), trains ('Southern Pacifica') and explorers ('Another New World'), 'So Runs the World Away' is like a book of short stories - some sad, some gritty, some life-affirming, but all as rewarding as each other. His ability to become or observe different characters, and give you a sense of them through the music and different tempos, is stronger than before. And as with the best short stories, you want to know more about everyone.

Usually when artists release new records they play it safe with the amount of tracks they drop into the setlist for the live show. Ritter should have no such fears - audiences will be missing out if they don't get everything here.

Harry Guerin