The authentic, acerbic solo tunes of Ryan Adams have sketched out the folk-rock movement since the beginning of the decade, be it the moody heartbreak songs, the triumphant energisers, or a questionable cover of the whole Taylor Swift 1989 album. It was the former of those three options that fans were anticipating for upcoming album Prisoner, after his divorce from Mandy Moore, finalised in 2016. And to an extent, yes, this is what he has delivered, but in a strange kind of way.
The hype was immediately built at the release of three intriguing singles: Do You Really Love Me?, To Be Without You and Doomsday. Do You Still Love Me? showcases the confrontation of wholehearted folk acoustic, mystic synths and perky riffs. To Be Without You is a stripped back country-esque ballad. Though the instrumentalism is fairly light-hearted, the lyrics bog the track down: according to Adams, “nothing really matters anymore” – a depressing sentiment in the wake of relationship breakdown. I feel as though it’s a confusing track in its merging of feelings; sometimes it can be got away with, but because this track is quite bare it doesn’t really work. Doomsday gives off a Springsteen-like vibe in its simple strums and blusey notions. Once again, it is fairly morose in its lyricism. These tracks set the tone for the whole tracklist, the gloomy undertones of the latter present most prominently on Breakdown, Broken Anyway and Shiver and Shake. The rock fervency explored in Do You Really Love Me? never seems to be revisited; after this track (which happens to be number one) the album becomes considerably less interesting. Lost in the soft rock is hushed fury that would’ve good to let out, especially coupled with the beautiful vocals Adams provides.
There’s not a lot else to say about the album. I like its very unedited nature, sticking true to the no-nonsense folk he is so good at. But the incessant sullen tracks take their toll after a while, it is never wholly exciting or something I would rush back to listening to.
Ryan Adams – Prisoner: 5/10
By Eleanor Chivers
Gothenburg’s electro-pop quartet are embarking on the release of their fifth studio album with the release of their new single ‘High’. ‘High’ will most likely feature in the follow up to 2014’s Nabuma Rubberland and is a chilled, steady track with hazy electronica, a warping bass line and a sharp beat accentuating it. Yukimi Nagano’s softly spoken vocal matches the musical furniture and from this subtle foundation, she can easily go on to reach high notes without sacrificing the soft edged, nudging progression of the song. An accomplished and well produced track from a group with a lot of confidence in their ability. It remains to be seen how this sound develops though.
This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Laura Marling, Little Dragon, Spoon, ZHU and NAO
The ever emerging talent of Maggie Rogers has continued to grow from her viral introduction to the world less than a year ago. A five track EP has been produced in a relatively short space of time since then with the famous ‘Alaska’ single taking centre stage. The single has delicate beats and clicks with gently warping electronica which go on to merge into one as the verse bridges to the chorus. Once there, a muffled, but heavier beat gives the song a catchy quality without sacrificing the delicate and natural sounds that are reinforced through her wispy melodies. With ‘On + Off’ we hear her develop her sound even more with a song that features bolder samples and piano loops which are woven together into a melodic fabric with a subtle, but charged rhythm driving it. Maggie sings with a almost a folk swoon that exudes calm and control to balance against a busy instrumentation.
The lightly whirring electronica of ‘Dog Years’ bounces off her vocals generating a symmetrical sound and this is the basis for the gradual flourishing of the song in the choruses. Though it’s more typical of a sophisticated contemporary Pop song, it still demonstrates her knack for production and her graceful delivery. ‘Better’ is a refrained track featuring multiple layers of wiry and whirring electronica arranged in an airy, chilled fashion which serves as the perfect environment for Maggies relaxed vocals. ‘Color Song’ is mostly an a capella song with an earthy and calming feel as Maggies multiple tracks vocals gently sweep across each other. She’s certainly proved herself to be an accomplished producer with an ability to fuse opposing sounds together in a seemingly effortless way. Introverted songwriting mirrors the imagery she uses to channel her lyrics and with these aspects she moulds songs that are multi-dimensional and functional. No long a viral sensation, but a proven talent.
Lana Del Rey has released her first material in sixteen months with her new single ‘Love’. Her impending and as yet untitled fifth album is expected to be announced soon. Ultraviolence had flashes of inspiration, but for the most part it stuck with the cinematic themes that were the mainstay of her last album Honeymoon. Though both albums were expertly executed, another similar effort would be wearing it a little thin. With ‘Love’ Lana certainly maintains a cinematic aesthetic, but with a hint at an expansive and atmospheric sound. The echoed drums and lightly drawn out production meets with Lana’s wistful, quivering vocals. There’s scope for a natural development to her sound, but also scope to repeat what she’s already done with this track. We’ll have to wait and see how the album falls into place later in the year.
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