Josh Ritter has made some unexpected moves in recent years. He collaborated with the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir on the guitarist and singer's cowboy-inflected 2016 record "Blue Mountain." And, earlier this year, Ritter took a bunch of his own not-totally-finished songs out on the road, testing them in front of audiences and letting them morph a little in the process. Ritter conjured a little Nick Cave and Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen in his dark, end-times ruminations on 2015's "Sermon on the Rocks," a record that managed to be both apocalyptic and strangely joyous.
The rocking roots gospel mix also invites comparisons to Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. With his literate songwriting, Sting might come to mind as well. Ritter will continue sharing songs that haven't been fully cemented or completed when he brings his Works In Progress tour to Connecticut. Artists used to take their near-complete songs out on the road in the pre-YouTube age, but social media and ubiquitous video have made some songwriters and singers reluctant to trot out fresh material before getting the chance to set the music to tape, so Ritter's tour is a nifty return to old ways, and a chance for fans to hear songs that might not ever sound this way again.
Josh Ritter takes the stage at Infinity Hall, 2 Front St., Hartford, Friday, June 30, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $34 to $64. 866-666-6306 and infinityhall.com.