Artist: Ryan Adams
Having quit music in 2009 (which by his hyper prolific standards meant releasing only one album a year), the return of alt-country hero, Ryan Adams, is a muted affair. His struggles with hearing damage acquired from Ménières disease have led him to record the gentle Ashes & Fire in a simple home setting. The vocals, guitar, percussion and piano formula Adams pedalled in his glory days is leaned on so heavily here that it renders most songs indistinguishable.
High points of the album include ‘Do I Wait’, which, despite some melancholic undertones, makes for a subtly catchy melody due to a stronger presence of percussion throughout. The upbeat lyrics of ‘Chains of Love’ exhibit positivity and optimism, but there is a feeling of dissatisfaction when the song ends after a mere two and a half minutes. It’s a dissatisfaction many will be left with at the album’s close.
In a Nutshell: Too distant and too dull.