Ryan Adams, ‘Ryan Adams’


Aidin Vaziri | There’s a good reason Ryan Adams’ 14th studio album bears his name as its title — in many ways it represents a fresh start for the man whose career nearly crumbled under the weight of addiction and label troubles. On “Ryan Adams,” released on his own Pax Am label, the former Whiskeytown front man sounds more composed and present than he did on his last batch of records, which for the most part were made up of rambling Grateful Dead-style jams. He made and scrapped an entirely different album before arriving at this one, an indicator of Adams’ newfound sense of restraint. The thing is, he was always at his best when things sounded most unhinged. There’s a curious late-’80s patina on new songs like “Kim” and “Stay With Me,” which evoke Glenn Frey’s solo work, that takes some getting used to. But Adams still taps into that sense of desperation and longing that made him one of the best songwriters of his era, melting into the howling chorus “Give Me Something Good” and letting his poise be ruffled just long enough to deliver the pristine country-rock ballad “My Wrecking Ball.”