Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire (2011)
Remove the handful of garage rock songs from Ryan Adams’s classic 2000 solo debut Heartbreaker and you’ve got an album that vaguely resembles his latest, Ashes & Fire (out Oct. 11). Produced by the legendary Glyn Johns, the album is by far the most stripped-down, intimate thing he’s ever done— a sort of post-millennial Tumbleweed Connection. Sounds good on paper, but the infamously prolific former Whiskeytown frontman has sort of painted himself into a corner at this point in his career. Over the course of 12 studio albums (on his own or with the now dissolved Cardinals), Adams has run the stylistic gamut from raw folk contemplation to balls-out rock n’ roll and even outlandish space metal. If Ashes & Fire fails to astound, it’s only because we’ve heard so much of this stuff from him already.