Setting aside the records he made with his excellent alt. country band Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams’s self-titled new album is his 14th under his own name – an insanely prolific work rate for someone still in his 30s.
And yet it’s three years since the achingly beautiful Ashes And Fire, his longest break ever. Well, it’s been worth the wait. Ryan Adams drips quality from every pore, from a return to his classic rock roots on the Springsteen-ish Trouble to a nod to Tom Petty on Gimme Something Good. Then there’s the classic Adams heartbreak of Kim, displaying the echoey, midnight-hued anguish and loneliness he does better than most anyone else.
He knows his own tropes – Feels Like Fire nods to his own sublime Anybody Wanna Take Me Home, with its Johnny Marr riff and cheeky ‘Someone take me home tonight’ exit lyric – and he puppeteers them like a master. There’s a real suspicion that this album – gorgeous as it is on the first few listens – will embed itself more and more in the coming months. It’s built to be savoured, not rushed.
Adams is arguably the greatest American singer-songwriter of his generation, and this only goes to strengthen that claim as he matures into true longevity.