Ryan Adams

Ashes & Fire

Written by: TL on 19/12/2011 23:22:04

Right, so, more writing. A good handful of years ago, while I was still only starting to get into music, I was convinced by a number of favourable number of reviews, to get into American modern country icon Ryan Adams, which to this day I am happy for, as especially his 2001 album "Gold" has a special place in my heart. Right around the time when I started listening to him however, Adams was so furiously productive, releasing both a double album and another normal album within 2005 alone, that I felt like I couldn't keep up, and effectively, I haven't really been following the man all that closely since then.

This year however, I somehow found my interest re-kindled, and hence I've been enjoying some time with Adams' recently released 13th album "Ashes & Fire". The album is the first recorded by Adams after the disbanding of his long time backing band, and hence marks a return to a relatively stripped down country approach, with arrangements centred squarely on either guitar, piano or both, and with added instrumentation added only subtly when at all. It's a 'less is more' approach that leaves plenty of room for Adams' soulful singing to grab hold of your attention, which he does routinely, conjuring up a warm, contemplative and relaxed variety of the sound you might also know from artist like Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists or even Bob Dylan.

As is to be expected by now, the average level of quality is absolutely rock solid, with Adams providing an ever classy and enjoyable listening experience, the kind of which is easily taken for granted, but really rarely found in artists other than those who have got their expression together the absolute most. Both slower, more moody tracks like "Kindness" and opener "Dirty Rain" will hit home on each listen, as will the slightly more lively numbers such as "Lucky Now" and "Chains Of Love". Truly, the only thing to really criticise Adams for, is for being somewhat conservative, which is reflected in the feeling that not all songs on here are equally memorable. Bearing that in mind, "Ashes & Fire" is probably not quite up on the level of Adams' best efforts, such as "Gold" and "Love Is Hell", but for anyone who's ever appreciated the American singer-songwriter, it's hard to think that this batch of songs will disappoint in any conceivable way.

Download: Dirty Rain, Chains Of Love, Lucky Now, Kindness,
For The Fans Of: Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, Bob Dylan, The Decemberists
Listen: myspace.com/ryanadams

Release Date 10.10.2011
PAX AM/Capitol Records

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