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Ritter Gets Political On 'Animal Years'

Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter will release his fourth full-length, "The Animal Years," this spring.

Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter will release his fourth full-length, "The Animal Years," this spring. Due April 11 via V2, the album was inspired by his reaction to the political climate in America over the last two years. The 11-song set was produced by Brian Deck, who previously helmed efforts like Modest Mouse's "The Moon and Antarctica" and Iron & Wine's "Our Endless Numbered Days."

"I talked to a bunch of producers and he was the first one that didn't try to tell that I was going to sell a million copies," Ritter tells Billboard.com of working with former Red Red Meat member Deck. "I wanted to make something different and weird and somebody who comes in with ideas like that, and he did. We wanted to make it sound like a dream."

"The Animal Years" tackles subjects ranging from love songs ("Good Man") to the war in Iraq ("Girl in the War"). According to Ritter, many of his lyrics and ideas were drawn from literary works. He used allusions from the book of Revelation and "The Divine Comedy" to form the apocalyptic "Thin Blue Flame," while "Best for the Best" takes from the letters of Mark Twain: "I realize that Illinois was more than I could stand / They say working's best 'cause poverty is hell on a man / Now I ride a lazy river through the Mississippi fan."

After his last effort, 2003's "Hello Starling," the Idaho native felt it was time for him to bring forth a record that made a philosophical and political statement, rather than "write an autobiography."

"I just felt so angry -- I felt like something was on my back," he says. "These are a collection of songs about confusion and about where this country is going. It's not as much a political record, but just a diary of things I observe, how divisive everyone is, no matter whose side you're on."

With openers Hem in tow, Ritter will kick off a spring tour March 5 in Galway, Ireland. U.S. dates begin March 15 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Here are Josh Ritter's tour dates:

March 5: Galway, Ireland (Black Box Theatre)
March 7: Letterkenny, Ireland (An Granian Theatre)
March 8: Limerick, Ireland (Dolan's Warehouse)
March 9: Dingle, Ireland (St. John's Church)
March 10: Dublin (Christ Church)
March 12: Cork, Ireland (Everyman Theatre)
March 15-18: Austin, Texas (South by Southwest)
April 20: Detroit (Magic Stick)
April 21: Chicago (Double Door)
April 22: Indianapolis (Birdy's)
April 23: Cincinnati (Southgate House)
April 25: Annapolis, Md. (Ram's Head)
April 26: Washington, D.C. (Birchmere)
April 27: Philadelphia (World Cafe Live)
April 28: Providence, R.I. (Narrows Center)
April 29: Boston (Avalon)
May 2-3: New York (Tirbeca Film Festival)
May 4-5: New York (Bowery Ballroom)
May 6: Shelburn Falls, Mass. (Memorial Hall)