Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Album Review: Ryan Adams- Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams
** out of *****
When an established artist decides to self title an album at some point in their ongoing career it means one thing, rebirth. The artists want to make a statement that this is who they are now and going forward. It can be successful or fall flat but there is no doubt that self titling means a lot more then: just couldn't think of a clever album name.

Except in Ryan Adams case...

When asked about the title he was quoted as saying:
"I could not think of a name for this record. Everything I came up with sounded so stupid. Everything sounded like a King Crimson album title, some convoluted shit. [...] I was like, I can’t call this Shadows or something, I just can’t do it."
Well exception to every rule I guess.

As for the music contained on the self titled release, all of the tracks are straight out of Tom Petty B-Cuts bin circa '82. The whole album is nailed into that time and space and would make great adult contemporary FM radio staples if that thing still existed; that isn't a good thing.

The opening track "Gimme Something Good" takes that Petty sound and mimics it, constructing a full sounding track with co-producer Mike Viola helping out along with (coincidentally?) Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on organs. It ends up the best all around effort (the Elvira video doesn't hurt) but all of the other tracks on the disk are in this style. "I Just Might" goes a bit of the Bruce Springsteen "I'm On Fire" route while the Steve Winwood light "Am I Safe" has some questioning emo-influenced lyrics over a pure pop vibe.

Lyrically Adams stays generic, smack dab in the middle of the road on every track. He's tired of giving up, you're his wrecking ball and there is comfort (or fear?) in the shadows. Nothing new or very memorable on the lyric front but the music deserves a bit more attention. 

The album gets an extra half of star to the rating because of the immaculate production and sound that is alive on this disk. Sure the early 80's weren't a great time for music but if the albums during that period had this crisp clear deep sound, things would have been better. Whether stripped down simple six strings or deep bass and organs the sound is lush and full. Self produced, Adams has displayed (as well as on other releases) his expert production touch proving PAX AM studios are a sonic delight.

If he wants to be the next Tom Petty that is well and good, Petty won't be doing it much longer, but the one thing Petty had was hits in bunches and unfortunately at the end of Ryan Adams not one tune sticks with you.
Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below.

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