Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Released: 9th September 2014
Label: PaxAm

“Nothing much left in the tank, but somehow this thing still drives, it forgot what it needed but somehow it still survives”. That lyric alone proves that Ryan Adams is the greatest recording artist alive right now and if anyone had any doubt as to the genius of this man, as he releases his fourteenth solo album in as many years, those doubts should be thrown far from anyone’s mind. On the surface that lyric from ‘My Wrecking Ball’, one of the many standout tracks from this self-titled album, simply represents a broken down vehicle, but when the lyric has come from the genius mind of Ryan Adams it clearly represents man's desire to carry on surviving even when the odds may be stacked against us.

As he enters his 40s, and to follow up the beautiful Ashes and Fire album, Ryan could have stuck to the format of gentle, slow melodies which simply allow his voice to take centre stage, but that would have been far too easy. In fact he scratched an entire album of that ilk to write a completely new album, in which he has turned the volume back up with pulsating guitar riffs from the off; the mix of anthemic guitar songs and acoustic ballads are perfect for showcasing Ryan’s talents as a guitarist and vocalist.

Standout tracks are everywhere. ‘Gimme Something Good’ with it's bluesy guitars instantly grabs hold of your soul, then before you know it an insanely catchy melody and chorus arrives and you will find yourself shouting from the roof tops as to how much you love this man. ‘Kim’ is one of those songs designed to push your stereo to the limits; the anthemic guitar riffs and pounding drums combine to create a song that you will never tire of. When you allow the lyrics to enter your head it will hit you that this a deeply personal song about losing a partner to someone else, “As the autumn leaves begin to fall, walking down the street, where you and I would walk, I see him, Kim, Kim, Kim oohh Kim”.

‘Trouble’ has that ultimate rock n roll swagger done to perfection, the interplay between verse and chorus ensures this is a song you will not forget in a hurry. ‘Shadows’ provides the album with haunting moments and could have sat comfortably on the 'Love Is Hell' release. The lyrics give us an insight into some of the pain running through Ryan’s head, “Every day in my head, that field of razor wire comes a little closer”. ‘Feels like Fire’ is another anthem that in a perfect world would be play-listed by radio stations across the world. ‘Let Go’ is a tender, heart-warming closer to this real treasure of an album, one that is a sure-fire contender for album of the year, and maybe even album of the decade.

As music lovers we are so privileged to be living in an era where Ryan Adams is walking this earth with us, giving us music that goes beyond greatness; we just always have to make sure we do not take him for granted and appreciate every song he writes.

Steve Tay

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