Ryan Adams has been on a roll since 2000’s Heartbreaker, so it’s no surprise that 2011 Ashes & Fire brings Adams back to channeling where it all began over a decade ago. Recorded with producer Glyn Johns (The Rolling Stones, The Beatles), Ashes is Adams’s first album following the disbandment of his band, The Cardinals, and while it’s simplistic at best, it finds Adams exercising roosty singer-songwriter perfection.
Yet as prototypical as it is graceful, it’s clear to see that this album is filled with nostalgic memories of a career and life filled with both challenges and love. Adams kicks things off with “Dirty Rain,” hitting a jazzy tone that showcases his wide range of depth as well as character. And while Ashes & Fire may only hit one note, Adams isn’t without some soul, especially when throwing in the impressive Norah Jones.
Rounding out the album is the single “Lucky Now,” in which Adams feels nostalgic about his time in New York during his twenties. It’s “Come Home,” a slow tempo song, where Adams shows his vulnerability, stripped raw musically and emotionally: “As the storm grows stronger deeper and wide/My face a winding river with no riverside/As the years grow longer I will be here by your side/ Ashes to dust and storm by storm/Forever I will always be your love.”
Ashes & Fire might not leave a lot to the musical imagination, but there’s no doubt that fans will be excited to have a blissfully happy Adams back in the mix.