Review: “Ashes & Fire,” Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams became a favorite of critics when he burst onto the scene as the frontman for the alt-country band Whiskeytown. After three albums as the bands frontman, Adams followed up by garnering acclaim with his first solo release “Heartbreaker.”

Since his initial foray onto the scene as a solo artist, Adams has bounced back-and-forth between a introspective, wounded songwriter to a drug-addled, bitter rocker.

At his best he marries all of the qualities, along with a strong blues and country base, into his songs.

Record Rating: 7.0

With his newest release “Ashes & Fire” Adams is revisiting that introspective territory that endeared him to critics from the start,
but there is no semblance of a hard edge that paired with it so well.

Some may hear his new album as a gentler, more sentimental version of Adams, which at times can border on the melodramatic or saccharine.

In “Come Home” Adams sings, “This house is strong, you raised it with your love; shelter from the winds from the cold and dark, nobody has to cry to make it seem real; nobody has to hide the way that they feel; If you stay right here tomorrow you’ll be fine I will be here for you standing by your side, so come home.”

Without Adams distinctive voice, the listener could confuse the songs as being from any acoustic-based singer-songwriter.

Again, Adams veers into being sappy in “Kindness” where he sings, “Kindness don’t ask for much, but an open mind; kindness can cure a broken heart, honey are you feeling kind; do you believe in love?”

If you believe Adams best days as an artist have already passed him by, you may be in the majority when listening to his latest release.

I don’t; not yet.

Getting a bit older, wiser and sober may have mellowed the man, but his distinctive sounds still shines through. And despite the sometimes overly-sentimental lyrics, Adams still shows his promise and why he became a critics choice more than a decade ago.

— Braden Lammers

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

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