Reviews in 200 Words

Ashes & Fire, Ryan Adams

In Album, podcast on October 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

Is this Ryan Adams’ best work? Not by a long shot. But those who would complain that Adams has gotten stagnant – that his songwriting is suffering from a lack of drama and his musicality suffers from a lack of Cardinals – are missing out. This is perfect autumn music. The songs are fire-lit and warm, the palette gray and brown and drab. These are not the story songs we’re used to. These are sketches – leaves falling from branches. They tend toward sentimentality. There’s a soft-rock Nora Jones aspect here, which is fitting considering she guests on a couple tracks. But his songs tend to grow like storms brewing on the horizon. Right now they’re just dark clouds, but give them time. Whatever comes, a weary Adams seems peculiarly prepared to weather it out. When the pace picks up it’s a welcome relief from some of the more somber walks. And there are certainly somber walks here. Adams said the album is about sitting in one place, decaying and being reborn at the same time. It’s about looking backwards and forwards simultaneously. He said (back in 2009) that he’d never record another record. Here’s to more looking forward.

-Jay Cullis

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