Admittedly, I was nervous for Ryan Adams’ new record, Ashes & Fire. Only because he’s one of the most unpredictable singer/songwriters I’m a fan of. As Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Jacksonville is a very different record compared to Cardinology. And then there’s also that bizarre metal album he released. However, that is what I love about Adams. He takes risks and is notorious for not giving a shit about what people think.
I think most Adams’ fans really love him for his ability to write heartbreakingly beautiful acoustic ballads. The kinds of songs you wish someone might right for you someday. Come to think of it, if I had a bucket list, inspiring a Ryan Adams’ song would most definitely be on mine. Who knows, he tweeted me twice on Saturday when he was in town. It could happen.
Getting back on track, his new record, Ashes & Fire is beautiful. It’s really a return to Ryan Adams circa Heartbreaker and Demolition. I know some critics have said there are gems and some songs that fall flat, but any Ryan Adams fan will love every second of this album. And the standouts are more than enough to appeal to those who aren’t already fans of this amazing songwriter.
My favourite track on the album is “Dirty Rain.” Again, I do feel like my ranking system is a little random and I wish I put this one higher on the list. I love the chorus: “So, may the wind blow and the moonlight know your name/So, let the needle move the record round until the walls cave in/And you and I are out there dancing in the dirty rain.” Adams’ vocals are so smooth on this track too. They just melt and bend around his perfect melody. Spoiler alert: this song is about the end of a relationship – like so many of Adams’ songs. But, no one does it better than him.
Also, I have to say, I saw Adams’ on Saturday in Toronto and it was a magical, magical experience. He told stories about Skyrim and Dracula, and sang to us like we were his best friend, just kicking around on his front porch asking him to play our favourite songs.