Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

Arguable one of the most prolific writers of his generation, Ryan Adams is the Alt-country poster boy that not only lived up to all expectations but has superseded it with an enormous wealth of quality work that even the most optimistic hype-mongers of the day could not have produced.

Having released more than 15 critically acclaimed albums in so many years, Adams’ incessant song writing reminds of the likes of Jimi Hendrix who was known for his perpetual writing as he was for his guitar chops. Also not one for being boxed in a particular genre, Ryan Adams can dish up catchy pop tunes, thick and twangy country licks and wailing guitar solos whenever his mood fins its way in that direction. But it is his amazing ability to craft piercingly beautiful love songs that stands out over his myriad of musical talents; a talent he puts to very good use on his latest album, Ashes & Fire.

With a country tinge and the unmistakable Ryan Adams sound, Ashes & Fire is slow swaying and beautifully melodic, an album that takes the best parts of the love songs from his previous albums and weaves them together with the help of the angelic blues voice of Norah Jones, the atmospheric lustre added by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers keyboardist, Benmore Tench, and the legendary producer Glyn Johns (from The Who – Who’s Next fame) helming the ship. The album feels like a love story – the ups and downs of two lovers as they go through life together, holding hands, running around without care or sorrow, holding each other by a fire, marvelling at the stars, growing old but as in-love as the day they met.

One never really knows what to expect from a new Ryan Adams album. Is it going to be dark, loud and experimental, or wildly introspective, emotionally charged and melodic? Ashes & Fire shines as the latter. Perhaps marriage has bought a sense of calmness and stability in Adams’ oft-tumultuous life, perhaps he has mellowed with age, perhaps it’s non of the above and he just felt like making one of 2011’s most beautiful, most endearing albums, one that is on repeat, late at night, while gazing at the city lights.

This post originally appeared on 8 November 2011