After three years, Ryan Adams has bounced back and delivered a personable album that will make any fan of “Gold” or “Heartbreaker” keep this album on repeat, despite Adams’ greater emphasis on the electric guitar. “Ryan Adams,” released Sept. 9, is saturated with emotion and brings a heightened sense of charisma that only Adams can provide. Unlike his previous solo effort “Ashes & Fire,” Adams has managed to create an album that gives listeners a glimpse into his dark and brooding imagination.
“Ryan Adams” begins its victory lap with “Gimme Something Good,” which feels like a bluesy apocalypse that sends a shiver through your bones and brings listeners to the realization that the true Adams is in the building. Off the backhand, Adams’ depression can be immediately sensed through the A-side of the album and shows that we are now dealing with a mature Adams. As best said on the cool, surfer-feel of “Am I Safe,”
“Every day my part seems like a stone/Carries me away into the undertone/Like a bottom, there’s no air.”
Continuing on the A-side is “Kim,” a ballad of false aspiration and dependency regarding a mysterious woman named Kim; one can feel Adams’ plea for Kim in the chorus. The anguish continues in “Trouble,” which feels like the culminating afterthoughts of “Kim” packed into one song. “My Wrecking Ball” closes out the first half of the album with not a whimper, but a soft self-reflection of a lone man’s search for self. As described at his Newport Folk Festival show, “This is a protest song, protesting the death of my grandmother.” “My Wrecking Ball” is emotional and is sure to make a lasting impact in Adams’ career.
The B-side of the album, also arguably the better half of the album, begins with “Stay With Me” which is the best song off of “Ryan Adams” The reverb-drenched sounds of the guitar carry the song through and keeps the listener hooked from beginning to end. “Shadows” brings a sort of mysterious air ripping through the album and is reminiscent of a song one might hear from another great independent artist, Arcade Fire. “Feels Like Fire” will have anyone bursting out their inner Guitar Hero with its catchy rhythm and Adams’ Springsteen-ish vocals. The final song of the album, “Let Go,” feels like a self-reflection of the album as a whole and reminds us that Adams is an uncompromised talent that will not be matched.
“Ryan Adams” is the ultimate album that every Adams fan was waiting for, and the three-year wait was worth every second. Not only did Adams manage to make and produce an album that was original to him, but also molded a testament of character and emotion that is lacking from so many albums today. If you were to pick up one album this year, this is that album. All I can say is, when will the next Adams’ masterpiece come out?