Friday, November 4th, 2011
Review of Ryan Adams’ Ashes & Fire and giveaway
David BlackThat Ryan Adams’ retirement from music – declared at the start of 2009 as a result of personal, medical, and industry factors – wouldn’t last was never in question. You don’t go from being as prolific as he had been over the past decade and a half to radio silence without a relapse or two. That said, he made a pretty good go of it for a while, busying himself with writing and being Mr. Mandy Moore. By early 2010, however, he was clearly ready to get back to making music and soft-launched his post-Cardinals career with the limited, vinyl-only release of a metal album that had been sitting in the vaults for a few years, and then before the year was out, a final Cardinals record – also shelved for a few years – was released via his website.
So while it’s his third release in under two years, Ashes & Fire is notable for being the first in some time to contain newly-written and recorded material without The Cardinals and get a wide release. And for anyone expecting Adams to make his return with a grand, rock’n’roll statement, Ashes may come as a bit of a puzzle – it’s slow, understated and primarily acoustic, sounding more of a denouement than a declaration, but most of all it sounds peaceful. An unexpected place for alt.country’s one-time enfant terrible and someone known for being creatively and personally mercurial, but considering that Adams has basically grown up in public – that first Whiskeytown record came out when he was 21 – it’s rather comforting to know that he’s feeling more settled and contented now.
If approached without the weight of expectation, without hoping for another Heartbreaker as I’ll admit I have for a decade now, Ashes has much to recommend it. Adams is in fine voice, his raspy croon having aged nicely and perfectly suiting the material, and though it initially sounds quite skeletally-arranged, there’s a full band in there playing with delicacy and restraint. It’s easy to wish that maybe there was a little more of the fire that the album’s title promises, but even a token rocker would probably detract more from the atmosphere of the album as a whole than it would add. And anyways, the guy just put out a metal album – maybe hit that up if you need some volume. Ashes & Fire comes with a very specific sound and purpose and it fulfills that most effectively.
Though Ashes & Fire came out digitally and on CD last month, the vinyl edition won’t be out until next week and courtesy of EMI Music Canada, I’ve got three copies of the LP edition to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want Ashes & Fire” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body, and have that to me by midnight, November 11. And sorry, contest only open to residents of Canada.
Let’s play three – Tokyo Police Club have added a December 10 date to their run at The Phoenix in December, making it a three-night residency. As with the other two shows, Born Ruffians and Said The Whale will support. Tickets are $25.
Pitchfork are on board with Vancouver garage-soul outfit Chains Of Love, offering up the A-side of their new 7″, out December 13, and reporting that the band’s debut EP will be coming in early 2012.
They’re at The Horseshoe on Tuesday night, November 8, for a free show. Go. Show appears to have been nixed. Sorry.
Toronto post-rockers Old World Vulture have released an MP3 as a teaser for their forthcoming album, due out in early 2012. Hear it live when they play Rancho Relaxo on November 12.