Brooks Ritter admits even he has a hard time describing his musical style. He sometimes refers to it as soulful-folk, bluesy-folk, or bluesy-rock.
Whatever the case, with a voice that rises up and sits somewhere between Adele and John Legend, Ritter exposes his listeners to a harmonious concoction of acoustic tenderness, gospel soul, Kentucky country and expressive rock.
His ability to hit notes, especially dissonant ones, within the melody keeps listeners connected to his words.
“My desire is to sing with emotion because there’s something to be told here,” Ritter told me via email in 2012.
Ritter may not be sure how to label his music, but he’s confident of what he sings about. Taking his cue from the great Johnny Cash, Ritter writes about three big topics: God, love and death.
“Honestly, sometimes I don’t know what to think about things so I write about them,” Ritter said.
Below are select questions from our Q&A…
Can you talk about your writing process? Do you tend to get very personal?
I know I’m probably not alone in this, but I write about what I see, how I feel about it and those things most dear to me. Vague, right?
A quote that has stuck with me a long time was in a magazine article about Johnny Cash and his writing process-paraphrased, mind you:
“I write about the things that are most important to me — Love, God and Death.”
I very much agree with this philosophy, because everyone experiences each of these things in one way or another.
Would you prefer that your music not be labeled by any particular genre or category?
No, I don’t really care. People will have their opinions about my music, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, while loving my family and the community that God has placed around me.
What’s your most memorable experience at a show?
One of my favorite memories from a live show was at a house show I was playing in Bowling Green, Ky.
There were two rooms in my friend’s house that were pho-living rooms that were packed with friends and folks I didn’t know. It was during the ending of “Song For A Loving Husband” (from The Horse Fell Lame), where everyone in the whole place was singing at the top of their lungs:
“We’re building houses of light, that shine through the night.”
That experience is forever etched into my mind and forever ringing in my ears.
What album can’t you live without?
I am an extremely sentimental guy, and a lot of the records I love mean different things to me…that said, A Ghost Is Born by Wilco has been a consistent record that I come back to, whether I’m feeling dry or whatever.
I’d say Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris is another one that leaves me wrecked (in a good way) after listening to it.