Ryan Adams is perhaps one of the most mercurial and unpredictable artists on the music scene. From a full album worth of Taylor Swift covers, to a lo-fi punk album and homages to Bruce Springsteen or The Smiths, you can expect pretty much anything from this performer.
The beautiful thing about Ryan Adams’s music is that it’s a stark reminder that artists do not necessarily have to constantly strive to be innovative at all costs. This songwriter appears to me like a music geek, obsessing over his favorite records and trying to do something in a similar vein…which is actually a really great thing, because it is not about merely emulating a sound, but adding new chapters to its evolution.
Prisoner, Ryan Adams’s recent studio album, is not one of those records that set out to reinvent the wheel, but it excels at being exactly what it is — a great collection of songs that swing between rock and pop — with a very nostalgic feel. The 80s are a strong reference, as Prisoner’s sound echoes the work of artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths or Tom Petty. These songs are honest and emotional, directly inspired by the end of a relationship in the artist’s life.
Ryan Adams continues to be a very divisive artist: while some like to nag about the “sugary” lyrics and college rock angst, others take his music as a powerful reminder that alternative music doesn’t always need to be avant-garde. Uttering the words “pop” and “rock” in the same sentence isn’t a blasphemy.