I’m not going to write a lengthy review of Ryan Adams’ fantastic new album Prisoner, I’m just going to share some quick thoughts.
- Ryan Adams isn’t quite the songwriter that he used to be. I think he reached his poetic pinnacle at Cold Roses. The lyrics aren’t terrible, but there’s some cheesiness and cliche that aren’t found on some of his earlier albums.
- Musically, however, he’s the best he’s ever been and I think that’s what carries this album. The alt country days are far behind him. This album is more an ode to The Replacements and Tom Petty than to Willie and Waylon.
- Everyone see’s this as a comeback album, but common the last album was nearly as good.
- This is a solid record by a prolific musician.
- Listen to it.
- These got shorter as my list grew.
- Love, Zach
I’m sitting here listening to Ryan Adams’ version of 1989. It’s late (10:01 to be exact, which is late for me late for me now). I’m the only one awake. My son and wife are out cold. I’m in my pjs with my feet propped on the coffee table absolutely loving what I’m hearing from my cheap little bluetooth speaker. This is probably the 70th time I’ve listened to it from start to finish in the two weeks of it’s release. I’m eleven songs in and every time I get to this part in the album I completely forget this is a Taylor Swift cover album. By this point all that are playing are the deep cuts; the songs that never made it on the radio or at least I’d never heard them before and they all sound like Ryan Adams’ originals.
Like everyone else who follows Ryan Adams on Instagram and Twitter I was intrigued by the snippets of songs he would release from the 1989 recording sessions, but intrigue was all it was. Then the internet started buzzing with excitement, but I never believed the recordings would ever be released into a full album. Then one day to my amazement it happened. Ryan Adams’ announced the release of a full cover version of TS’s 1989.
. . . And I’ve been listening to it nonstop ever since. Readers of this post, it’s a good album. I feel like it’s not even a cover album. I feel like Ryan Adams wrote these songs himself. His interpretation of the album is spot on. I’m not saying it’s better than the original. I don’t even think you can compare the two. As hard it is for some people, this album needs to be seen as a Ryan Adams’ album. Just sit back and close your eyes and pretend that you’ve never heard “Welcome To New York” and you’ll think you’re listening to a track from Ryan Adam’s album Rock n Roll. A friend of mine commented, “I thought, if I were completely unaware of Taylor Swift, would I have been able to distinguish this from Adams’ other work? And I honestly wasn’t sure.” That pretty much sums it up.
This past October I saw Ryan Adams live in Ames, IA and it was everything I hoped it would be. He’s been my favorite musician since I was 18 years old. Lot’s of things have changed in my life in the last 12 years, but not my love for Ryan Adams, so driving six hours to see him play and forking out $100 for two tickets wasn’t even an afterthought.
Maybe this is a sign of my age, but going to shows where you have to stand up the whole time exhaust me lately, so walking into a huge seated auditorium made this even more special. He could have played anything and I probably would have loved it, but he played a variety of songs from almost every album he’s released.
I’m not going to write too much more about it, just know that it was amazing and I was as happy as I’ve ever been while listening to live music. He was funny and very personal between songs. The stage looked amazing (decorated with 80’s arcade games), and he sounded even more perfect live than he does on his albums.
You can stream the set list below in a playlist I made on Spotify.
Ryan Adams is one of our generation’s greatest songwriters, and I remain convinced that “Oh My Sweet Carolina” is one of the most perfect songs. The lyrics, the music, and the vocals combine to make a perfect, melancholy, sweet, and heavy song. I feel this song all the way in my bones, and I get goosebumps like I’m in a religious worship meeting.