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Tuesday, 2 September 2014



After The Fire

$100,000! That's how much it costs to record a Ryan Adams album that no one gets to hear these days. Still there is life after debt...and even 'Life After Deaf' (see the brilliant box-set). After coming from the 'Ashes and Fire' of 2011 (where does the time go?) and recovering from Ménière's disease, Ryan is back with his self-titled album that follows a cutting room floor scrapped one. One that looks like a debut, but deeper and darker feels more like his most personal project to date. On the wax heels of his 7 inch, E.P. record '1984' paying punk homage to 45's of that year in this 2014, Adams gives us another apple of his creative eye on the eve of the big, fall music release schedule that gets set to replace the Summer movie blockbuster season for billboard success. The needle on your vinyl player is ready to drop onto the scratches of a new black wheel classic as Ryan replaces the amazing acoustics (and Norah Jones, she's busy working with an ex-Cardinal for the foolish fun of Puss N Boots) for some epic, eclectic electric, as the man-who along with Ben Harper shows he's the closest thing to Springsteen and Dylan in modern, mainstream music today -makes something that in more ways than one is distinctively him. From the stunning L.P. perfect lead single 'Gimme Something Good', Ryan has done just that with a song that is not only one of his best in years but one of the greatest hits of his career. The 'Heartbreaker' who has struck 'Gold' with everyone from Whiskeytown to the Cardinals gives us his 14th album, 14 years into his career in 2014. Judging from this 2016 is going to sound sweet.

One year off 40 the man who has wrote books ('Hello Sunshine') and heavy metal albums ('Orion') is truly, finally feeling like himself. Happily married to post, pop princess Mandy Moore and releasing some of the best records he's ever cut. You can hear just why "as the Autumn leaves begin to fall" on 'Kim' an ode to his muse as strong as Eminem's bitter love for his lady of the same name. 'Cutting her name into a wall with a key' and seeing who is only described as "him", 'Kim' is a longing lament of a relationships Summer brightness turning into Winter blues. There's more 'Trouble' and awesome slow licked and guitar soaked odes as Ryan sings "another Summer where the palms are the colour of doom/put my hand through the mirror let the water run". A gloomy mood has never sounded so California cool. "All these things keep running through my mind/everything and everyone I've left behind" considers Adams on his insightfuly introspective 'Am I Safe' where our stellar singer/songwriter looks back and forward at his own decency and mortality. This isn't pop music. It's purist music. Sorry Miley. Miss Moore's man gets to work on 'My Wrecking Ball' leaving a pile of destruction in his wake and the best song with those swinging, destructive concrete metaphors since Springsteen turned one written in honour of the collapsing of the New York Giants stadium into an amazing album. With "nothing much left in the tank" and love lessons learned, Ryan gives us one singing "all the walls we build must come down". Time to get swinging!

They say "one mans coffee is another mans whiskey" and while the majority of Ryan's contemporaries frequent coffee houses, Adams latest music is tailored for two more stronger shots. It's the barstool blues, or the love on the rocks with a twist that keeps this sobering singer honest. 'Stay With Me' is a plea in that after hours direction, from the fire of an argument to the ice in a glass. The haunting, instrumental begins of 'Shadows' hammers this home further with heavy guitar chords that knock like a moody morning, hangover headache. The singer that rose from his last album 'Ashes', describes something that 'Feels Like Fire' in epic effervescence engaging through your earphones. Burning like vodka brightly before 'I Just Might' wakes up and smells some coffee. Still Adams didn't write all this depth and distinction for people to just ignore in the faded background over gossip and latte's. 'Tired Of Giving Up' heres a guy sick to his stomach of just taking the easy route to our excuses. Giving up on giving up? It's as inspired as it is ironic and as we join him on the classic closer 'Lets Go' we would all be the wise to singing along to his word like a gospel choir. As he sings "All my life/been shaking/wanting something/holding everything I have like it was broken" on his lead strong, lead single he's going to smash records with this one as he gives us something good. Even Jack White's eclectic 'Lazaretto' from Third Man in Nashville cant come as close to this Pax Am country star who now has American music in the heartland palm of his pick. With Maroon 5 and Counting Crows introducing the autumn of bands this man goes it alone and joins Harper in Springsteen with another classic for a catalogue of that credit chasing Dylan's songbook. Going it all alone, we don't know how much 'Ryan Adams' cost or was afforded to by this one mans pocket, but we can tell you it's worth every penny. It's worth 'Gold'! It's worth a million! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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