Thursday, January 19, 2012
Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams
Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams released his new album Ashes & Fire October 11 on PAX-AM/Capitol in the U.S.. Adams' first solo album released via a new U.S. arrangement with his own PAX-AM label and EMI's Capitol in the U.S. and Canada, the album was recorded at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood and produced by Glyn Johns, renowned for his work with the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Clash, The Who and The Rolling Stones--and whose son Ethan produced previous Ryan Adams albums Heartbreaker, Gold and 29.
"All great records start with great songs," commented Dan McCarroll, President of Capitol and Virgin Records. "Ashes & Fire will remind you why Ryan Adams is at the front of the line as one of his generation's most gifted artists."
From the slow burning stunner of an opener "Dirty Rain" through the infectious shuffle of the title track and irresistible harmonies of "Lucky Now," to the closing lament of "I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say," Ashes & Fire is arguably the most cohesive and beautiful album of Adams' distinguished career.
Ashes & Fire also features guest turns from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench as well as Norah Jones who contributes piano and backing vocals on several tracks, including the lilting, acoustic overtures of "Come Home," the sumptuous ballad "Save Me" and the heartfelt "Kindness."
I love Ryan Adams, and you need to know that up front. That said, I've been a little let down by Easy Tiger, which I loved at first, but which has not stayed in my CD player as much as say Cold Roses (probably his masterpiece!) or the somewhat misunderstood genius of 29. I was worried that this CD could be a return to more Easy Tiger style stuff, which was good but not very memorable. I am so pleased to be wrong. Dirty Rain, the first track, starts us off on an easy midtempo folky song with a great melody and a fantastic vocal, full of the passion and grit that we've missed a little recently. You've probably heard Ashes & Fire by now if you are a Ryan Adams fan, and it is a good one. I haven't heard him use the waltz beat very much, and he uses it well. The vocal on "Kindness" is absolutely transcendent, it reminds me of the best vocals from Cold Roses, and the use of the organ subtly in the background is very welcome. I love the piano touches, which are not overboard, and I love his gentle drawl. I love this song, and for me it is probably the standout of the record. Fans of alt-country Ryan (as opposed to Rock N Roll Ryan, Heavy Prog Metal Ryan, English 80's Pop Ryan, Rap Ryan, Death Metal Ryan, or any of the other incarnations that he inhabits with remarkable facility) will find much to enjoy. For me, his voice--by turns gentle, trembling, cracked, gritty, and melodic sounds fantastic here. Ryan does a lot of styles well, but this is the style at which he is the acknowledged master, and this set of music will make those who love his heartbroken tales of woe and love gone wrong very very pleased that they have continued to listen.