# 2. Ryan Adams: Ashes & Fire

Having only been introduced to Ryan Adam’s over the past couple of years, I’m excited to peruse over his new album on the high recommendation of a friend whose musical opinion I trust, and who consequently turned me on to a lot of Adams’ material. I credit my close pal, Steve O’Reilly for introducing me to Adams way back around the time “Easy Tiger” was released. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals had a slew of videos kicking around on the net and I was sold on “Everybody Knows.” But it wasn’t until my other close friend, Wade LeBlanc, whom I met shortly after moving to Nova Scotia,  threw “Easy Tiger” at me. We tend to cover the song “These Girls” at parties and hangouts/jams. From there, an acquaintance let me borrow “Gold” and “Cold Roses,” both of which were great, but never floored me as much as Easy Tiger. My bandmate and close friend, Marc Fagan was taken with “Cardinology” which I enjoyed as well, but still didn’t hold up to the songs and delivery of Easy Tiger. Critics ensure me that Adams’ songwriting is in top notch form on this latest outing and that this album is great. Let’s have a go at er’…

Similar to yesterday’s album, the first song seems to borrow heavily from folk canon and simple folk arrangements. I’ve always been a fan of musicians who can borrow from this tradition but still make it new, fresh and enjoyable.

When listening to artists who’ve “made it,” my mind always wanders to think about Canadian and local musicians who are crafting music in a similar vein that is just as good or often better.  Halifax based, Steve Gates comes to mind after that first track and I’m looking forward to listening to his material soon.

Adams’ again feels like a modern descendant of “The Band.” With Richard Manuel style piano playing and great timed solos while maintaining the feeling that you’ve heard this before…. in a good way. The title track is a feel good romp that utilizes this “band” influence.

Interestingly enough, Adams is a true country artist and often has a song or two on his albums that would fit right in on CMT being sung by Tim McGraw or someone similar, which has happened in the past and will more than likely continue to happen in the future as Adams tends to write more authentic country than most mainstream country artists. “Come Home” is a perfect example of such a song.

Adams’ versatility as a songwriter, for better or worse, has always amazed me. “Rocks” being a great example as I’m not immediately in love with it as it sounds like a Joan Baez song and is a little dull.

I’m a little over the halfway point and I feel like the songs haven’t really stood up next to the opening two tracks. They’re by no means bad, but they’re safely Ryan Adams songs. I’ve spoken too soon, “Save Me” has grabbed me as a beautiful and melodic country- gospel song.

“Kindness” has hinted that Ryan Adams could be in a happier place now that he’s married and fresh off a musical hiatus. Very untroubled and at times “sappy” lyrics.

“Lucky Now” has hit me like the opener’s and is one of the stronger tracks upon first listen.

Oddly enough, when this album finished playing in itunes, it automatically began playing the next Ryan Adam’s album in my library- “Easy Tiger.” The opener of the that album, “Goodnight Rose” is a personal favourite of mine and I would have loved to hear something similar on the new album. I’m definitely not dismissing it, but it personally doesn’t surpass my coveted “Easy Tiger.” Like most everything that Adam’s puts out though, it is a marvellous example of songwriting and musicianship that should not be missed.

Highlights: Ashes & Fire, Lucky Now

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