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

Single Review – Ryan Adams – Doomsday 

In the build up to February’s release of Prisoner, Ryan Adams has released three singles: Do You Still Love Me, To Be Without You, and, most recently, Doomsday. Doomsday recalls the hearty folk rock of his previous albums, interweaving Springsteen-esque notions into the defiant instrumentalism. The track slides in using a bluesy harmonica, upheld by a characteristically-Ryan Adams simplistic strum, the folky feel complimenting his warm vocals. The combination of robust vocals and backing track meet their climax in the chorus, when a roar of guitar follows each vigorous exclamation of ‘my love.’ The lyrics themselves are fervid yet glum, the solemn messages of heartbreak intensified by the vigorous instrumentalism. It’s a good song – a little boring, and nothing out of the ordinary – but a good song.
By Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Ryan Adams – Do You Still Love Me?

Ryan Adams has made it clear what the inspiration behind his sixteenth studio album was; his divorce. Now the album title of Prisoner is more pointed and the release date on the next release date after Valentines Day becomes a feature of what will seemingly be an emotionally charged album. If that wasn’t proof enough, then the lead single ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ hammers the message home. The oscillating organs that open the track are the foundation for punching riffs and Ryan’s rough-edged vocals. Musically, the song has a late 1980’s stadium rock feel to it, almost like his near namesake Bryan Adams. The dramatics are taken to another level with a tearing guitar solo from which the power of the track extends. Ryan Adams has never been one to experiment with new sounds, but here he really delivers the style better than anyone else and with a deep lyrical content. Should make for an interesting album at least.

Owen Riddle