On February 22, 2007, the folk singer-songwriter Josh Ritter stepped on stage at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, played three songs and said little more than “I’m excited to be here.” Uh-oh, I thought. After a few songs he absorbed the warm glow from the audience and launched into some hilarious stories about his GPs lover, high school proms and bizarre, recently invented sports involving BB guns. But the best part was the music. Ritter played songs from his three albums, including “Good Man” and the stunning “Girl in the War,” which updates the girl-misses-boy-at-war story into a boy-misses-girl ballad, both from his newest release The Animal Years. His narrative style, political lyrics, small-town Idaho roots and folk/acoustic sound have caused critics to compare him to Bob Dylan, but his songs are fresh and his talents are his own. Ritter played hard, stopping mid-song to unravel another story, then picked up exactly where he had left off. After the show he happily came out to the lobby to sign autographs and give hugs.