Ryan Adams — Ryan Adams REVIEW

Ryan Adams serves as scope on someone who’s made their entire life revolve around music. Involved in the business since his early twenties, Adams started off as the front man of alt-country pioneers Whiskeytown, and near their disbanding, he set off on a solo career that’s since produced fourteen studio LPs and a wealth of shelved away recordings people refer to as his “lost albums”. Ryan Adams, the fourteenth addition to his dynamic fleet of music, showcases Adams at his most refined, yet most doubtful thus far. Marriage to A Walk To Remember and Tangled’s Mandy Moore, ownership of his own Los Angeles label/studio Pax Am, and a life clean of recreational drug and alcohol use have rendered Ryan Adams softer, tamer, and more contemplative; 2011’s serene, acoustic Ashes & Fire demonstrated a sort of acceptance to this growing older, while this new, self titled record frames itself on fiercely questioning and doubting the security that this lifestyle offers.

Paxamericana Records

At 39, Adams’ lyricism has grown utterly realistic; there are no fantasies here, and this record is ultimately a downtrodden reflection of the melancholy that runs rampant in the human mind. Fiery, precarious perspectives stand these songs up straight as Adams’ touches on the uncertainty of marriage on “Am I Safe” (“Am I safe if I don’t want to be with you?”), pleads to lost thoughts on “My Wrecking Ball” (My thoughts inside my head get lost inside the haunted house”), and the self characterization on “Trouble” (“I see my brother waiting in line for his turn/I’m not as humble/I know everything here is gonna burn”). Adams’ description of his Menieres Disease even slips through on the slow burning song “Shadows”: “I fall straight to the floor/Before the film is through”. This LP really goes to show that even when you become the person you dreamt of being in adolescence, this cashed in dream offers a new library of emotional struggle and self doubt; a polarizing revelation that Adams’ comes to term with on the closing track, “Let Go”.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN9R9To2eE8]

With the help of his new backing band The Shining, Ryan Adams is a sharpely constructed, concise rock & roll album with its emotionally spirited, pessimistic contemplation bleeding through the thoughtful lyrics and the gritty, arena rock reminiscent production. The minimalistic drum compositions present on nearly all these songs compresses any filler and allows Adams’ stellar, rainy lyricism to resonate fluidly with the mechanics of the tracks, and from beginning to end, the record has its tongue tied as it swerves through the boney organ tapers on the desperate plead “Gimme Something Good”, the grimey, tightly echoed riffs on “I Just Might”, and everything in between – This is an album that manages to be sharply produced and simultaneously resembling the abrasive charm of a shelved off tape of demos. After all, this is Adams’ second shot at self producing an official release. Together, he and his guitarist Mike Viola strike the notes on these twelve tracks with a resolute consistency that exhales a hot breath of atmosphere into this LP; the questioning riff on the almost exclusively acoustic “Am I Safe” brings forth turmoil that couldn’t nessesarily be read through Adams’ vivid, ultimately unsettled lyrics, “Stay With Me” boasts a dreamy, open road aesthetic achieved through the tight, grimey leads, and the cryptic, illustrious bad dreams on “Gimme Something Good” are in debt to the sharpened, dusty chord strikes on the verses.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=802vbfZe9io]

Ryan Adams is a needle-like memoir on what its like to grow old and successful, yet come across a new arsenal of doubts and misplaced melancholy. Along with this thematic aesthetic that drives the record into songwriting glory, its one of Ryan Adams’ sharpest, well produced albums to date that drives with the windows down on a road reminiscent of the organ heavy, crimson rock of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and early Springsteen. Without a doubt, give this one a spin – And if you’re a fan, you should probably listen to it for the twentieth time like I just did.

Score: A

You can pick up Ryan Adams online or at your local music store now.