Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams (Pax Am/Blue Note) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Pax Am/Blue Note

Sep 10, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s impossible for anyone but Ryan Adams to say whether or not his new album is symbolically self-titled. It sure seems that way.

Adams has filled the years since his last release2011’s Ashes & Firewith an active production schedule (Jenny Lewis, Fall Out Boy, Ethan Johns) at his own Pax Am Studios. After years working with other producers like Glyn Johns, Tom Schick, and Jamie Candiloro, Ryan Adams is the veteran songwriter’s first self-produced LP. The music is all the better for it.

What makes Ryan Adams so stunning is both its substance and restraint: lead track and single “Gimme Something Good” speaks immediately of both. The heavy B3 and jangly, classic electric riffs carry this straightforward slow burn upward toward a warm final round, each element a perfect fit. It’s a running theme on Ryan Adams.

“My Wreckin’ Ball” is this album’s “Lucky Now,” a raw acoustic turn that strips both artist and listener bare. Adams’ ballad is half confession, half admission and, taken together, the pair weave a rare intimate invitation that compels like few songs can. A slight organ persists and a vocal echo picks up near the end, deft touches that shape the song just enough.

“I Just Might” burns bright with the soul of Springsteen, from Adams’ vocal style to his earnest delivery. “Trouble” lands right in Adams’ wheelhouse both lyrically and sonically, a mid-tempo rock number where Adams laments “the lines on his face like a map of his sins.” Both are among the album’s highlights.

“Shadows,” however, shows Adams at his finest; a haunting track carried by a soft, slow snare and sparse guitar tones. Adams lingers here the longest, experimenting with guitar layers and falsetto reaches. “How long do I have here with you?” he asks. All the time in the world. (www.paxamrecords.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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