American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams has a reputation among fellow musicians for being an underrated talent. I’ve talked to a fair few artists myself who claim his music as an influence, or at least a favourite for casual listening. On the flip side of that coin, Adams has earned a bit of a reputation among fans for being a bit moody, publicly bristling at comparisons to Canadian rock star Bryan Adams and mocking punters who snap photos with smartphones during his live shows.
Adams’ most recent album release was similarly irreverent, at least on the surface. His full-length cover of Taylor Swift’s LP ‘1989’ reinterpreted Swift’s songs in something approaching the style of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’. Completely stripped of the original album’s flashy pop accoutrements, the cover version came across as a bit maudlin after news of Adams’ divorce from singer Mandy Moore. Adams himself discussed the album as both an exercise in musicianship and a form of emotional therapy, and in the context of his entire body of work, it seems almost tangential.
As for Adams’ forthcoming new album, its first single ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ is more in the vein of his scorching self-titled album from 2014. ‘Ryan Adams’ was anxiously energetic, seething with hot guitar licks and heavy lyrics. ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ is perhaps a bit lacking in the lyric department, but its chorus echoes with longing (“what can I say? / I didn’t want it to change”) and its sharp rock ’n’ roll edge is undeniable. Longtime fans might yearn for Adams’ forlorn alt-country past, but listeners like myself who came round late in the game will answer the song’s title query with a most emphatic “yes”.
Now on tour in Australia and Asia, Adams and his newly formed backing band performed the new album in full during a secret show at Sydney’s Factory Theatre this time last week. You can have a listen to the official audio for lead single ‘Do You Love Me?’ just below. Ryan Adams’ new LP ‘Prisoner’ is due for release on the 17th of February 2017, via PaxAm/Blue Note/Capitol. TGTF’s previous coverage of Ryan Adams is back this way.