katernater: (music • (doctor dj))
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I have been a Ryan Adams (that's Ryan Adams, not Bryan Adams; if you're looking for sentimental pop ballads, you'd best take your search elsewhere) fan for years, ever since I heard "Firecracker" off of his sophomore album, Gold, back in my undergraduate years. (For some reason, the albums you listen to during college -- arguably your most formative years -- tend to stick with you more than others. They do for me, at least.) I have since seen him twice in concert, the second time being right before his self-imposed "retirement" from performance owing to a case of Ménière's disease, which kept him out of the music scene for close to two years. Now it seems that Adams is back, and in full force. His early work (starting with the seminal Heartbreaker) has developed into a solid, deeply introspective sound that comes to full fruition in his latest release, Ashes & Fire.

This album has earned the top spot in my list of Favorite Albums of 2011. It is Adams at his best: melancholy yet hopeful; earnest and painfully self-deprecating. It is one of those rare albums that I can listen to all the way through, without wanting to skip tracks. Adams's attention to lyrical detail -- honed and sweetly optimistic since his marriage to actress Mandy Moore in 2009 (I know, right?) -- is nothing short of brilliant here. The newly sober, newly lovestruck Adams retains his soulfulness while simultaneously breaking into new territory with tracks like "Come Home," "Kindness," and (my favourite) "I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say."

I highly recommend this album. Give it a try; I would love to know what you think, too.

Ashes & Fire
1. Dirty Rain
2. Ashes & Fire
3. Come Home
4. Rocks
5. Do I Wait
6. Chains of Love
7. Invisible Riverside
8. Save Me
9. Kindness
10. Lucky Now
11. I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say

Get it here.
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