Words About Music
Ryan Adams “Ryan Adams”
Ryan Adams is one of indie rock’s most confrontational and fascinating personalities. Sometimes he behaves in ways that are conducive of what some would call a “prick,” and other times he releases perfectly friendly and inoffensive folk-based indie rock. Throw in a couple hardcore-punk EPs and you’ve got one of the most prolific figures of the past two decades. His new self-titled record is his fourteenth studio album and his first since 2011’s equally agreeable “Ashes and Fire.” The songs on “Ryan Adams” are pretty much exactly what you’d expect from him at this point, which is quality material that you can put on pretty much whenever. I’m a Ryan Adams fan, but by no means am I a diehard, and that’s totally fine. He’s got some great albums under his belt, and as long as the rest of his large discography remains consistently decent, I have no problem praising the man’s music.
Thankfully, this album is more than just another cog in the Ryan Adams machine. There’s actually some standouts on here that prove that Adams isn’t just winging it, which is something he could very well do if he wanted. It feels like he was actually inspired to make this album. Perhaps he self-titled it because the songs on here really do mean something to him and he’s in the middle of some sort of self-discovery. Or perhaps he’s just Ryan Adams and he does what he wants. He’s punk rock’s answer to Wilco, even though he didn’t explore his punk rock side until recently.
This record seems to also include some inspiration from the significant cultural events that have occurred since his last album. If “My Wrecking Ball” wasn’t written with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor in mind, I’d be very surprised. Adams is a smart guy who writes good songs, and while “Ryan Adams” isn’t an astounding or life-affirming record, it does what nearly every album of his has done: it doesn’t suck. Unless you have a strong aversion towards laid-back, simply-recorded indie-folk, you shouldn’t find anything offensive or terrible in this album. I wouldn’t readily compare Adams to Elliott Smith, but the two have well-written indie-rock sounds and textures in common.
SCORE – 7.4
FAVORITE TRACKS – Gimme Something Good, Am I Safe, My Wrecking Ball, Stay With Me, Shadows, Tired of Giving Up