Said it before, I’ll say it again — it’s unbelievable how Ryan Adams is able to roll out such consistently great music at such a restless pace.
The singer-songwriter rock-and-roller’s sixteenth studio album Prisoner comes out this Friday, and listening to it today via NPR Music’s First Listen premiere, it almost plays like a greatest hits collection. Which is to say: every song is a jam of some sort. There’s Adams the quiet, contemplative folksinger (“To Be Without You”) and the pensive slow-burn rocker (“We Disappear”). Some moments classically draw from his admitted Paul Westerberg fixation and admiration (“Doomsday”) while others leer in jagged and unexpected directions (the heavy stutter of “Do You Still Love Me?”) showing that Adams is unafraid to challenge his listeners after two-plus decades at work.
NPR’s Stephen Thompson has this to say:
With Prisoner, Adams’ songs tackle another milestone: his 2016 divorce from actress and singer Mandy Moore. And, though it sometimes returns to the calmer feel of his other recent studio albums, Prisoner in many ways feels like a retreat: to self-reflection, to primal emotions, and to a tense, rootsy rock sound that recalls the mid- to late-’80s work of Bruce Springsteen.
…More than anything, though, Prisoner has a welcome urgency to it: With their raw, vivid imagery of agony and isolation, these songs could only come from this time in his life. He’s not much for faking it — which, come to think of it, is itself a good way to carve out a nice, long career.
Listen to Prisoner below, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Adams also appeared on the WTF Podcast with Mark Maron for a wide ranging discussion where Adams shares his perspective on working with producer Don Was, opening for The Rolling Stones and his interest in exploring as many genres as he can. Listen to the podcast here; for more on Adams’ extracurriculars, get a peek at the album Liz Phair is making with him here.
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