Ryan Adams: Ashes & Fire

Ryan Adams
Ashes & Fire

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I try not to be one of those listeners who wants more than what I am given, especially when what I am given is as good as Ryan Adams’ new record, Ashes & Fire. The guy who recently temporarily retired from the music business due to an illness is back and sounds strong here with his affecting voice and, in the case of this new album, benefitting greatly from famous producer Glyn Johns.

Adams gets great playing from his backing musicians here too, most notably from Tom Petty’s keyboard wizard Benmont Tench who will certainly break your heart with his light touches on the beautiful opener “Dirty Rain,” which I can’t seem to stop listening to.  There is also the equally as angelic, country-flavored love song “Come Home.” Ryan happened to marry Mandy Moore during his time off from music and she provides a nice backing vocal here (along with Chris Stills) and Greg Leisz perfectly placed pedal steel seers through.

“Do I Wait” gets loud and about as commercial as anything is going to get here, and Tench’s turns on the organ are amazing. “Save Me” is a deep confessional with gorgeous soft string arrangements.  “Kindness” has some great backing vocals and “I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say,” the last track, is Adams doing his shaky Neil Young/Lyle Lovett vocal thang, but to great affect (and he’s smart enough again to let Tench take the lead). Ashes &Fire is damn good.

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