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American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams has announced a list of live dates in the UK and Ireland for this September, in support of his newly released album ‘Prisoner’. Our own Steven reviewed the album back here, ahead of its release last Friday. You can have a listen to album track ‘Doomsday’ just below the tour date listing.
Tickets for the following shows will be available starting Friday the 24th of February. A full listing of Adams’ upcoming worldwide tour dates can be found on his official Facebook. You can read TGTF’s complete previous coverage of Ryan Adams through this link.
Friday 8th September 2017 – Belfast Ulster Hall
Saturday 9th September 2017 – Cork Opera House
Monday 11th September 2017 – Dublin Olympia Theatre
Thursday 14th September 2017 – Manchester Apollo
Friday 15th September 2017 – Edinburgh Usher Hall
Sunday 17th September 2017 – Gateshead Sage
Monday 18th September 2017 – Leeds Academy
Friday 22nd September 2017 – London Royal Albert Hall
There’s no doubting that American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams is one of the more prolific songwriters around. ‘Prisoner’ will mark his sixteenth release, which is one hell of an output for one mind. Naturally, you would imagine that at some point there would be a lull in the quality. Having released such a career-defining debut, ‘Heartbreaker’ in 2001, the pressure has been on him from the start, and he really hasn’t helped himself because over the years he’s managed to churn out a solid body of work through various guises and forms. Lest we forget 2005 where he released three albums in 1 year, one of which was a double disc.
The modern day Ryan returned to us after his “retirement” back in 2009 with 2012’s ‘Ashes & Fire’, an acoustic, soul-baring album that proved his songwriting chops were still as fine as ever. 2014 gave us his self-titled album that brought a bit more life to the party and also gave birth to the sound he’s choosing to envelop himself in: a supremely vintage, eighties vibe with confidence and power ballad-esque potential. ‘Prisoner’ continues this while harking back to his earlier years (we missed you, harmonica).
The lead single from this effort came in the form of ‘Do You Still Love Me?’, which sticks close to the self-titled way of working, just with a bit more stopping and starting. The only trouble with the abruptness that careens throughout is it leaves you a bit dissatisfied. Like you’re constantly waiting for it all to culminate into one grand “fuck yeah” flourish. In terms of the chorus, there’s certainly a grabbing and encompassing melody to it. You can feel the heavy metal elements that he loves flowing through in the striking solo but lacking the ferocity that the genre usually shows, so it doesn’t hold as much sting.
Following this is the album’s title track that brings things down to a more reserved level. It’s a beautifully delicate number that brings out the rawness Adams is oh so adept at channelling into his music, especially considering the main inspiration for the album is his divorce from singer/actress Mandy Moore. The sparse and reverberant harmonica that kicks in during the outro is heartbreaking. Continuing with his mission to break open your emotions and spill them all over the floor, ‘Doomsday’ decides to just appear straight away with more harmonica, an instrument that when used right can cut you in two. Slightly more powerful than its predecessor, the post-chorus decides to try and pick you up slightly, but then the harmonica slinks back and pushes you back down and refuses to let go.
‘Haunted House’ doesn’t really differ from those before it, and in all in honesty, at this point in the record you wouldn’t expect any change. Adams is no stranger to musical experimentation, as shown from his back catalogue, but what he truly does best is tell his stories in a way that you can relate to. What listeners need to bear in mind when listening to ‘Prisoner’ is that while this may not be his strongest release, every artist makes records for a reason. This was one that he felt he needed to make, to those express dark and hurt feelings. No song shows this more than ‘Shiver and Shake’. A barren guitar, when twinned with Adams shaking vocals, is a dangerous thing, especially when you put those two ideas with lyrics such as “I’ve missed you so much I shiver and shake”. Thankfully, things pick up, only slightly, on ‘To Be Without You’. There’s a slight note of promise and hope, but ultimately it’s the lyrics that dash these ideas and leave you back in the gutter.
There’s a bit more life in following track ‘Anything I Say to You Now’. The reverberant and ghostly guitars still ultimately reign supreme, but the chorus has a melodic quality not seen since Adams’ 2003-era release ‘Love is Hell’. As his voice echoes and falls away from the musical backdrop, there’s a certain call back to the sound of The Smiths. Rain-soaked Manchester evenings have always been a central player in Adams’ more disparate sounds, thanks to his adoration for Morrissey and co., and that is more than highlighted across the entire album.
‘Breakdown’ is where Adams decides to go bare bones and builds the song up around the exposed skeleton he starts with. As the chorus hits, the bass has a run that you can’t help but follow, while the guitars glimmer in and out of its empty spaces. Its active moment comes from the middle chorus, which leads to everything falling as if down a set of stairs. Slowly. It’s brutal, and you truly feel Adams himself wasn’t too far off from “heading for a breakdown”. ‘Outbound Train’, ‘Broken Anyway’ and ‘Tightrope’ go for a majority acoustic offence, which is a nice break from the glimmering guitar sound of the rest of the album. It also allows Adams’ words and voice to take centre stage, which is where the true strength of this album lies. Oh, and the saxophone on ‘Tightrope’. That’s cool.
Finale ‘We Disappear’ is the weakest moment of the album. It doesn’t add to the depth of the story Adams is trying to tell. Nor does it add any variance musically, though it does have moments of madness that are likely the true meaning behind ‘Prisoner’. As a whole, the record does little to evolve Adams’ sound. In fact, it seems so annoyingly close to his previous album, but ultimately it’s a record he had to make for personal reasons. So, we thank you, Ryan Adams, for sharing your life.
‘Prisoner’, the sixteenth album from American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, is out tomorrow, the 17th of February on PaxAm/Blue Note/Capitol. To catch up on TGTF’s past coverage on Ryan Adams, use this link.
American alt-rocker Ryan Adams officially announced his forthcoming new album ‘Prisoner’ back in December 2016, with the audio release of lead single ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ Adams was active on Twitter and Instagram through the recording process for ‘Prisoner’, frequently posting photos and updates on the album’s progress to pique his fans’ interest. More recently, Adams has been making the traditional media rounds to promote the album’s impending release, even appearing last Saturday on BBC Radio 2 with Jo Wiley (you can listen back to that clip right here).
Now, as the mid-February release date for ‘Prisoner’ draws near, Adams whets our appetites both for the recording and for anticipated live shows, with a stage and studio-themed video for the lead album track. Watch the new video for ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ just below. Ryan Adams’ new LP ‘Prisoner’ is due out on the 17th of February via PaxAm/Blue Note/Capitol. TGTF’s previous coverage of Ryan Adams is back this way.
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.
During my tenure here at TGTF, I’ve twice been able to attend the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX, and probably the best part of that experience has been discovering new artists that I might otherwise never have heard. Last Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to follow up on one of my new finds from SXSW 2015, as American singer/songwriter Natalie Prass opened for veteran rocker Ryan Adams at Tucson’s Rialto Theatre.
I had never attended a show at this venue before, but neither of the artists on the bill was a stranger to the Rialto stage. Adams had graced the stage previously in 2008 with his band The Cardinals and Prass appeared here as Jenny Lewis’ keyboard player last year. Adams and Prass have spent the first part of 2015 touring together through Europe and the UK as well as in America, and they have grown comfortable enough to play a few cheeky covers of each other’s songs during the current tour cycle. Adams even donned a full costume and filled in for Prass when flight delays caused her to miss their show in Copenhagen in March.
I saw Prass’ set at Maggie Mae’s on a whim at SXSW 2015 a couple of weeks after that ill-fated Copenhagen show, and I was excited to see her opening set at the Rialto, but as fate would have it, she faced a similarly challenging situation in Tucson on the night. After playing her first song in solo fashion, Prass related to the audience that her band had gotten stuck on the road with bus trouble. She did, however, have a few friends on hand who were able to step in. Keyboard player Daniel Clarke, who also played keys on Prass’ self-titled debut solo album, came onto the stage to accompany her, and he was soon joined by the other members of Adams’ touring band, including “Spaceman Adams” himself on the drum kit. Prass said that they had been cramming on the bus, listening to her record in order to learn the parts. If that was truly the case, they did their jobs admirably, playing a nearly seamless set that allowed Prass’ sultry singing voice and country-noir songwriting craftsmanship to take center stage.
For Adams’ headline set, he stage was decorated with vintage arcade game and vending machines, along with symbolic representations of Adams’ previous album titles, including a stuffed tiger for ‘Easy Tiger’, a glass smoke machine for ‘Ashes & Fire’, and an American flag for ‘Gold’. His current self-titled solo album, number ten in his extensive discography, was presumably represented by the man himself, and he opened with its hit single ‘Gimme Something Good’. I was familiar with this track already, having heard it on the radio here in America, and while the guitar riff is hot on the recording, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the scorching impact it makes in live performance. While Adams’ older tracks have a more alt-country flavour, his guitar skills leave no doubt about the rock aspect of his music, and the most effective tracks in the set list were the ones where Adams let loose with amazing guitar solos.
Surprisingly, Adams didn’t play as many songs from his new album as I expected, but he touched on it most notably with the slow burning ‘Kim’. He played through most of the show without any banter between songs, which allowed his songs to do the talking, and up to that point I was completely mesmerised. When Adams did finally stop to chat and catch his breath, he wryly taunted the crowd for taking photos and watching the show through their smartphones, which I must admit did register a slight pang of guilt in the back of my mind. On a more good-humoured note, he also pointed out a woman wearing her sunglasses inside the dark venue, speculating that she was either hiding tears after Prass’ lovelorn set or that she was possibly high. This led to a lengthy tangent about eating boxed macaroni and cheese seasoned with instant onion soup; I’ll leave you to imagine how those things might be related.
Getting back to the music, Adams responded to a shouted request from the crowd by playing a thrash metal number I didn’t recognize. The song was received with great applause, and I found out later that it was a version of ’16 Days’, from Adams’ former band Whiskeytown. For my money, Adams’ decision to stay on stage and play straight through the set rather than taking the obligatory encore break was most welcome, and he wisely took advantage of Prass’ presence on the tour by bringing her back to the stage for vocals on ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ and ‘When the Stars Go Blue’. At the end of the night, after having forgotten to introduce the aforementioned Daniel Clarke as part of the band, Adams proceeded to invent an entire song centered around Clarke while the other band members gamely jammed along.
I came away from the show with a slew of new songs buzzing through my head, and I stopped at the merch table outside to pick up both Adams’ and Prass’ latest CDs. I was already a fan of Natalie Prass after her charming SXSW performance, and she didn’t disappoint in Tucson, even with her somewhat impromptu band arrangement. I was only a casual fan of Ryan Adams previously, having listened to his songs in passing on the radio and after hearing other artists such as The Young Folk name him as an influence on their songwriting. I was impressed enough to amass a collection of his music during my road trip to Los Angeles the following weekend, and his 2001 album ‘Gold’ became a fast favourite on the long drive home through the desert. Better late to the game than never!
Ryan Adams will return to the UK early next year, following on his brief September stopover and the recent release of his self-titled LP.
Tickets for the following shows go on general sale Friday the 10th of October at 9 AM. Presale information can be found on Adams’ Facebook page.
Thursday 19th February 2015 – Brighton Dome
Saturday 21st February 2015 – Leicester De Montfort Hall
Tuesday 24th February 2015 – Edinburgh Usher Hall
Wednesday 25th February 2015 – Leeds Academy
Friday 27th February 2015 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Saturday 28th February 2015 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Sunday 1st March 2015 – Liverpool Guild of Students