Ashes & Fire - PAX-AM/CAPITOL
FILTER Grade: 86%
By Ilyse Kaplan on October 12, 2011
Ryan Adams has an innate sadness that burns through all aspects of his songs, from the drone in his voice to the twang in his guitar. His 13th release, Ashes & Fire, has a new hopefulness guiding listeners toward the light at the end of the bar. From the opener “Dirty Rain” onwards, Adams gracefully pushes past his heroin-infused Love Is Hell days to present an album created thoughtfully and consciously. Stepping away from his Cardinals bandmates creates an intimate sound highlighting Adams’ solo guitar (even the drums appear as a brassy whisper on “Kindness”). Wrapping up the record with jazzy piano ballad “I Love You But I Don’t Know What to Say,” Adams seems comfortable letting listeners into his sober world. Though the sultry Southern flavor his fans love him for is still very much present, Adams remains an artist who refuses to put out the same record twice—and considering his pace, that is certainly something special.