Sometimes, it’s good to take a break. Sometimes you must. Such was the case with prolific singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. After being diagnosed three years ago with Ménière’s disease, an inner-ear disorder, he put his successful career aside to focus on therapy and his health.
With his condition in check and renewed vigor, Adams returns with this self-titled release. His previous work covers a complimentary mix of styles, from alt-country to straight country, folk to rock. Ryan Adams is a collection of indigo-splashed, taut tunes of the last variety. Introspective and thoughtful, it’s a most welcome return.
The album finds the 39-year-old a little less sure of his space in the Cosmos, insecure even. (Disease has a nasty way of causing self-reflection.) “Gimme Something Good” is a great opener full of chunky chords and swirling organ. The urgent, plaintive “Stay With Me” feels more Damn The Torpedoes than anything else he’s done. And “Shadows” gives a glimpse as to what we may have witnessed had there been a full-on Jeff Buckley-U2 collaboration.
Adams recorded this album at his L.A. studio, Pax-Am, where he and couple of musician buddies basically banged things out in a couple of weeks. The tunes and the words were flowing, he’s said, and he was charged by the sessions. Good for him. And us.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s December ’14 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.