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Monday, September 26, 2011

What's Everybody Saying so far about Ashes and Fire???

Ryan posted this on his facebook page:

"They" just sent me the mastered copy of the new record. I really love it so much. It just sounds like plain ol' me when I sit and play the acoustic guitar- simple and raw and not fussy. I think it might be the best one I made- it feels like, songwriting and non-fussiness- like a brother to Heartbreaker. I really hope whoever takes a chance on it loves it. I did my best."

Ryan's chum - Jesse Malin posted this in an email:

"I just heard Ryan Adams ' new record "Ashes and Fire" and it is one of the best things he has ever done. It's very real, honest, and exposed. Something about it is very healing and life affirming. I can't wait to own it and play it at home."

Q Magazine calls "Ashes and Fire" : "a return to familiar country rock-isms"

Q Magazine also put these song by song first impressions of Ashes and Fire:

Ryan Adams' new album Ashes and Fires isn't released until 11 October, here's Q's first impression of the singer-songwriter's long awaited 13th studio album (not including the three he did with Whiskeytown).

Dirty Rain: "Last time I was here it was raining but it ain't raining anymore," begins Ryan Adams on this wistful acoustic opener. Sure enough, after apparent health problems and the split from his backing band The Cardinals, the alt-country stalwart seems to have broken freefrom the blustery bouts of self-anguish that have plagued his last few solo releases. Dirty Rain is a more strident, upbeat and introspective ballad fleshed out by organ, bluesy piano riffs and gentle percussion. Something this acoustic version Adams has given to Q below, beautifully shows.

Ashes & Fire: Adams picks up the pace on the title track. The Dylan-ish twang to his vocal is matched by lyrics in the chorus that Mr. Tambourine Man himself would be proud of: "Drowning in a river of tears, the river she cried left her with a heart made of ashes and fire." Subtle honky-tonk pianos sit in the background, but this is all about the man and his guitar.

Come Home: A sprinkling of slide guitar and a dash of doomy romance and we're in familiar Adams territory - no heavy metal here, unlike on last year's Orion album. The lyrics are on the heart-swelling side - "if you'll stay right here, tomorrow you'll be fine/ I will be here for you, standing by your side" - but it's a tenderness that echoes the soft moments of albums like Heartbreaker and Gold.

Rocks: Straight out of the Bonnie "Prince" Billy school of melancholic folk, Rocks sees Adams weave an almost whispered vocal around shakers, finger-picked guitar and luscious strings. "I am not rocks in the river, I am birds singing," he pines. On first listen, one of the standout tracks - gentle, languid and with a subtle understated sadness.

Do I Wait: Lighters at the ready, this track is one of the album's big sing-a-long moments. A crunchy thrum of organ, acoustic strumming and drums accompany Adams as he contemplates a relationship in grave trouble. It reaches its dizzying peak with an electric guitar solo and some lung-busting elongated wails of the song's title.

Chains Of Love: A stomping number full of glowering optimism and infectious vocal melodies. At two and a half minutes long it's the album's shortest song - a real folk firecracker.

Invisible Riverside: Perhaps this album's very own Oh My Sweet Carolina, with added amped-up guitar screeches. The spirit of Neil Young looms over the track, all country swagger and rich imagery. Adams has written three books in recent years, Infinity Blues, Hello Sunshine and the forthcoming Phoenix, which has clearly sharpened his literary powers - lines like "I wanna lay my head forever on your shoulder/ stay with me my love now and when we're older" have a simple poignancy that tug keenly at your heartstrings.

Save Me: A slow, sauntering piano-led ballad that lurches further into country territory. Soulful harmonies light up the chorus in this down-tempo number, splashed with pedal steel guitar and strings.

Kindness: Adams launches into a tuneful exploration of what it is to be kind on this gently strummed effort. "If you're so kind, let down your hair," sings the Jacksonville native, in this soft-rock spin on the Rapunzel fairytale. One of the more obviously catchier songs on the record, its piano melodies will be in your head for days.

Lucky Now: "I feel like somebody I don't know/ are we really who we used to be?" asks Adams on this muted track full of quiet, delicate instrumentation and hushed vocals. A touching stroll down memory lane, Lucky Now reveals a Adams as a maturing, increasingly subtle songwriter.

I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say: Adams takes to the piano for this stirring ballad, that closes Ashes & Fire on a quiet, tender, yet emotional high. A fitting end.
Al Horner

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