Written by Chris Panico
It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a Ryan Adams record. In 2011 he dropped Ashes and Fire, and outside of the occasional EP, it seems like the singer has been content locked in the studio working as a producer. So, the time felt right for the world to get a new Ryan Adams record — one that delivers musically and lyrically and is something special, something that really sticks with you.
His new self-titled record, released earlier this month, displays the artist’s mastery of restraint and his natural gift for intimacy. Throughout the record his voice seems to have an I’m-just-like-you quality to it that connects quite well with the listener. The acoustic track “My Wrecking Ball” is the best display of this ability, and the song even houses one of his better lyrical ideas:
“Everyone I used to know left their dreams by the door
I accidentally kick ’em that’s how I can tell you’re still not sure”
The new record also is built on the backbone of great grooves. Adams consistently uses simple, rhythmic ideas between the guitars and drums that just lock together perfectly. Without an overabundance of instrumentation he creates an amazing vibe that has an almost an almost visceral feel to it.
That being said, Ryan Adams seems to fall into the white noise category of new releases. Many of the tracks capture a Bruce Springsteen-esque element, with one or two even dipping into Fleetwood Mac territory, which is great for Adams if that’s his intention.
However, he doesn’t bring anything new to the table with Ryan Adams. None of the songs come out as strong enough or unique enough to differentiate them from the more iconic source material they draw from. The consistent mid-tempo feel throughout the release and the middle of the road lyrics prevent it from being particularly notable.
All in all it’s a listenable album, but I don’t think Ryan Adams (the record) is anything anyone will miss out on.