Even the most prolific artists need a break and so it was with Ryan Adams. After a great burst of creativity that resulted in four albums’ worth of material in two years — Orion plus the double-LP III/IV in 2010, followed by Ashes & Fire in 2011 –- Adams took a three-year hiatus, dabbling in side projects and productions, breaking up his longtime backing band the Cardinals, and eventually re-emerging in 2014 with a self-titled album.
The old canard says an eponymous album released well into a career suggests a rebirth, and that’s somewhat true of Ryan Adams, which largely ditches the Dead obsessions, ragged country-rock, and occasional noise squall for precision-tuned audio straight out of 1981. He still finds space for the spare “My Wrecking Ball,” an intimate piece of acoustica that recalls the spartan Heartbreaker, but not unlike Jenny Lewis’ The Voyager, which Adams also produced, craft is the order of the day here, from the expertly carved bones of the songs to the fathomless shimmer of the album’s surface.
Unlike Love Is Hell, which wallowed in murk, or the self-styled dazzle of Gold, Ryan Adams is designed for comfort, placing as much import on the rolling aural waves as what lays within a song. This suppleness is quite alluring: Ryan Adams is a record that can slip into the background, providing the soundtrack to anything from heartbreak to a lazy Sunday morning.
If Ryan Adams was merely sonic candy, it would’ve been enough, but this is also one of Adams’ cannily constructed records, one that runs deliberately lean.
RYAN ADAMS VANCOUVER 2015 SHOW
Feature Image: 6tee-zevens via Flickr