REVIEW: Ryan Adams – ‘Ryan Adams’

Artist: Ryan Adams
Title: Ryan Adams
Label: PaxAmericana
Genre: Country Rock

Fourteen records, a successful recording studio, four (as far as we know) bands, and countless co-productions later, Ryan Adams finally found a relatively small place in my heart. I’ve always loved his type of music. Like a lot of people, I still find myself listening to “New York, New York” on a regular basis. I like Tom Petty. I like Eric Church. I like Keith Urban. I like Dan+Shay. Although Adams would admittedly hate to be put in this pool of country-ish artists (as he claims to hate country music), I honestly don’t know how else to categorize it.

For some odd reason, though, Adams, like artists such as Bruce Springsteen, to me was always just that one guy who wrote that one song about my city. It didn’t help that he’s been spiraling down alleys of musical experimentation (The Finger, Pornography) that you’d only expect of a twenty-something year old one hit wonder, either. I can go on about why I never was an avid Adams or Springsteen fan, but that’s not as relevant. What’s relevant is the fact that Adams channels so much of Springsteen in this new, self-titled record — in a way that actually made me question why I’ve avoided Springsteen’s music for so long despite his apparent and timeless admiration from the general public.

A minute and a half into this new record and I was not digging it. Opening track, “Give Me Something Good,” felt really dry and exhausted. I didn’t lose hope, though. I wanted to see what all the (older) hype was about. I had hopes for this new record. I had hopes to change how I listened to his music.

A track entitled “Kim” came next and I was glad I didn’t stop listening. This track redeemed the intro enough to make me listen to the rest of the record. The next couple of tracks proved to be solid, but they most definitely weren’t stellar. “Am I Safe” had its highs and lows, like the rest of the remaining tracks.

The very light instrumentation on “My Wrecking Ball” directed all the attention to Adams’ vocals, something that is obviously as good raw and untouched as it is when it is being mastered and layered onto. “Feels Like Fire” was a definite standout track as well. The somewhat upbeat tempo picks up after what felt like hours of the same rhythm. The steady snare drumbeat and the bare accompaniment complemented the lovey dovey lyrics very well.

The most Springsteen-esque track yet, “I Just Might,” captivates listeners with the palm-muted electric guitars and slow build-up to a strong, Born to Run-like ending. “Tired Of Giving Up” brings the record to a full circle and prepares you for the final track, “Let Go,” both melodically and by means of the song titles. This last song, which immediately took the cake for my favorite, assured me that I wouldn’t be dismissive of Adams’ music ever again. The ironically chipper aura that this track exuded was contagious and made the record finish on a very positive note.

Ryan Adams, mostly because of its rigorous cohesiveness, contained very little outstanding moments; but with the stronger aspects of this record such as the lyricism, the timeless quality of his voice, and taking into account everything that’s been going on in his personal life at the moment, he gave us something (kind of) good, all right.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar
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