Josh Ritter and Aoife O'Donovan collaborate on new version of "Strong Swimmer"

Article Contributed by Sacks and Company | Published on Friday, June 23, 2023

Josh Ritter and Aoife O’Donovan have joined forces for a new duet version of Ritter’s song, “Strong Swimmer.” Listen/share HERE. Recorded remotely between their home studios, the duet is the product of a longtime dream for the friends and neighbors, who have wanted to find an opportunity to work together for many years.

Of the collaboration, Ritter shares, “When people talk about truly incredible musical thinkers, I always put Aoife right up there. She really gets songs in whole new ways, and she’s generous enough to share that kind of insight with the rest of us,” while O’Donovan adds, “It was a joy to collaborate with Josh on a new version of this gorgeous song. He is truly one of the absolute finest songwriters of our generation, and ‘Strong Swimmer’ really spoke to me on a deeply human level.”

The original version of “Strong Swimmer” is from Ritter’s acclaimed new album, Spectral Lines, which was released earlier this spring via Thirty Tigers (stream/purchase here). Produced by Ritter’s longtime collaborator Sam Kassirer(Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim), the album finds Ritter expanding beyond the bounds of his previous work to create a record both atmospheric and profound. Dedicated to the memory of his mother, Ritter searches for commonality across these ten seamless tracks by exploring life’s most universal ideas—love, devotion, and what it means to be connected, to both each other and to ourselves.

In celebration of the new music, Ritter and his band, the Royal City Band, will embark on an extensive headline tour this fall including shows at Dallas’ Longhorn Ballroom, Houston’s Heights Theater, Austin’s Paramount Theatre, Los Angeles’ Belasco Theater, San Francisco’s The Fillmore, Portland’s Revolution Hall and Seattle’s Moore Theatre among others. He will also join Gregory Alan Isakov for select dates this summer. See below for complete itinerary. Full details can be found at
Adding to an already notable year, Bob Dylan also performed Ritter’s song, “Only A River,” earlier this spring while on tour in Japan. The song was originally recorded by Bob Weir for his acclaimed 2016 solo album, Blue Mountain. Of the cover, Ritter shares, “I am speechless. I wrote the song in the stairwell of my dorm in college, 25 years ago. Music is a blessed traveler.”

One of today’s most thoughtful and prolific voices, Ritter has released ten studio albums to date including 2019’s widely acclaimed, Fever Breaks, of which NPR Music praised, “He remains a hydrant of ideas while embodying an endless capacity for empathy and indignation, often within a single song.” In addition to his work as a musician, Ritter is also a national best-selling author, having released two novels to date: 2011’s Bright’s Passage and 2021’s The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All, for which the film rights have recently been optioned for development. Released to critical attention, Stephen King wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Bright’s Passage “shines with a compressed lyricism that recalls Ray Bradbury in his prime…This is the work of a gifted novelist.”

In addition to Ritter (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar) and Kassirer (piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizers, drums), Spectral Lines also features Jocie Adams (clarinet, synthesizers, background vocals), Matt Douglas (woodwinds), Zachariah Hickman (upright bass, electric bass), Rich Hinman (electric guitar, pedal steel), Shane Leonard (drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass), Kevin O’Connell (drums, percussion, electric bass, electric guitar) and Dietrich Strause (acoustic guitar, electric guitar).

1. Sawgrass
2. Honey I Do
3. Horse No Rider
4. For Your Soul
5. Black Crown
6. Strong Swimmer
7. Whatever Burns Will Burn
8. Any Way They Come
9. In Fields
10. Someday


July 27—Portland, ME—Thompson’s Point^
July 28—Burlington, VT—Waterfront Park^
July 29—Montgomery, NY—City Winery Hudson Amphitheatre*
August 12—Lyons, CO—Rocky Mountain Folks Festival*
August 26—Portsmouth, NH—3S Art Space+
August 27—Saratoga Springs, NY—Café Lena+
August 28—Saratoga Springs, NY—Café Lena+
September 14—Ridgefield, CT—Ridgefield Playhouse+
September 15—Hammondsport, NY—Bluff Vineyard Series+
September 16—Fort Hill, PA—Deer Valley Folk Fest+
September 17—Patchogue, NY—Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts+
September 23—Providence, RI—Columbus Theater*
September 24—Camden, NJ—XPoNential Festival*
September 29—Dallas, TX—Longhorn Ballroom*
September 30—Houston, TX—The Heights Theater*
October 1—Austin, TX—The Paramount Theatre*
October 2—Santa Fe, NM—Lensic Performing Arts Center*
October 4—Tucson, AZ—The Rialto Theatre*
October 5—Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up Tavern*
October 6—Los Angeles, CA—Belasco Theater*
October 7—San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore*
October 10—Portland, OR—Revolution Hall*
October 11—Seattle, WA—The Moore Theatre*
October 18—Kilkenny, Ireland—Set Theatre# (SOLD OUT)
October 19—Galway, Ireland—Leisureland#
October 20—Belfast, UK—Mandela Hall# (SOLD OUT)
October 22—Limerick, Ireland—Dolan’s# (SOLD OUT)
October 23—Cork, Ireland—Cork Opera House#
October 24—Dublin, Ireland—National Concert Hall#
October 25—Dublin, Ireland—National Concert Hall#
October 27—London, UK—Hackney Church#
October 28—Manchester, UK—RNCM Concert Hall#
October 29—Glasgow, UK—St. Luke’s#
October 31—Rotterdam, Netherlands—Lantarenvenster#
November 1—Haarlem, Netherlands—Patronaat#
November 2—Utrecht, Netherlands—Pandora#
November 4—Groningen, Netherlands—Take Root Festival#

^supporting Gregory Alan Isakov, with the Royal City Band
*Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band
+Josh Ritter solo acoustic
#Hello Starling 20th Anniversary Tour with the Royal City Band