Ryan Adams – Prisoner Review 

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

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