Rough week at work? Kids (or parents) yelling at you? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind break your brain? Head to Gypsy Tea Room on Monday night, where these two singer/songwriters will be gingerly strumming their acoustic guitars and trying to soothe their own bottomless aches--but in a nice sort of way that won't remind you of your own. Ritter, an Idaho native and Oberlin grad, has been collecting Dylan drops lately for last year's Hello Starling; his liberal use of "Calamity Jane"s and "steamboat Casanova"s and "darling Clementine"s demonstrates why. But I hear more secondhand Dylan in his stuff--specifically, the beat-down beauty of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams. Time will tell if Ritter gravitates toward secondhand John Mellencamp the way Adams has--Ritter's budding star status in Ireland is an issue--but for now, his cozy folk-rock resonates with warmth. Opener Thomas didn't title her hushed second album Only With Laughter Can You Win for nothing: The Seattle-based singer often peppers her acoustic sets with bits from her parallel career in stand-up comedy. It's an odd mix, given the naked pathos of her songs, but one Ryan Adams fans will find refreshing.
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