The opening sounds of Ryan Adams new self titled album sound like he has been listening exclusively to early Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and late 70's Jackson Browne, it has that distinct late 70's L.A sound. The dark prince of alternative country has lost none of the defiant outsider spark that has flamed his muse for close to 20 years. Even as he approaches 40 and has a more settled personal life he can still capture that sense of torture that made him such an iconic figure in alternative country or Americana whichever distinction you choose. Gimme Something Good is a slow burner, it has the ever present keyboard prince of L.A Benmont Tench supplying, when I hear this song I immediately think of the album Damn The Torpedoes it definitely would have fit on that album. The sessions for the album came out of the shelving of a Glyn Johns produced album, with Adams feeling that he was going over old ground.
I can't talk
My mind is so blank
So I'm going for a walk
I got nothing left to say, I can't see
There's a darkness on the rise
I'll be waiting here, till the end of time
I've always liked the bareness of Adams' music, he opens up in his songs, all the demons that have driven him for years always are at the forefront of his songs. Kim is a tale of desertion and desperation, the memory burns and never fades against a sparse backdrop, solitary guitar chords and Adams' clear and resigned voice. Wrecking Ball has that sparse sound that was familiar on his earlier albums, it's a more literal story,
Driving through the streets tonight
It's hot, I've got the windows down
I wish I could call you, I wish you were around
Nothing much left in the tank
Somehow this thing still drives
Think I forgot what it needed, but somehow still survive
And all the walls we built, must come down
Stay With Me dips into Petty/Heartbreakers well again, a more defiant and primal song with jangling guitars and a classic rock edge. The contrasting Shadows is a little more fuzzy, stripped back and less polished, Adams gives his voice more room pushing the guitars/bass and drums further back into the shadows.
I fall in the cutting room
Straight to the floor before the film is through
The day in my head, the feel of razor wire
Come up closer honey and touch the fire
Feels Like Fire featuring Adams' wife Mandy Moore on backing vocals has that defiance of youth, I Just Might is the highlight of the album, just Adams strumming a growing sense of urgency comes across straight away.
Light is harsh as it breaks through the blinds
Shadows on the wall cross my face like black lines
I'm so disconnected at the foot of the bed
Don't know what to say, don't know what I said.
The album was recorded at Adams' own PAX AM studio in Hollywood and features Australian musician Tal Wakenfeld on bass, she has previously been a member of Jeff Becks' group.