Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bittersweet Curse

How seriously can you take the idea of romance between an Egyptian mummy and the archaeologist who discovers him? Not terribly, am I right? Such scenarios are generally limited to black and white horror movies and pulpy Anne Rice novels. Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter somehow manages to invest this fantastical relationship with pathos and tenderness, making "The Curse" the standout track of his 2010 album So Runs the World Away. "The Curse" is a lilting waltz with perfectly punctuated horn accompaniment and one of the most elegantly written poetic narratives in pop music. Ritter's drummer, professional puppeteer Liam Hurley, painstakingly created a visual corollary to the song that enhances its already powerful emotional impact. (You can read Hurley's thoughts on the song/video and see photos of the production process on NPR's All Songs Considered blog.) You can scoff at the perceived preciousness of an all-puppet music video, but if you're not moved by the sight of that marionette mummy reaching out to stroke the archaeologists hair (1 minute, 19 seconds into the video), then I'm not sure you're alive. Recommended for: lovers of poetic, finely wrought songs; puppeteers and puppet aficionados; video geeks; and any human being in whose chest the dried fig of a heart still beats.