Ryan Adams
Prisoner


1.5
very poor

Review

by DoofusWainwright USER (99 Reviews)
February 20th, 2017 | 218 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trapped in Another Man's Shoes

We all have our heroes, it would be a sad world if we didn't. Of course, most of us will never get the chance to emulate the achievements of our idols; strap on a stratocaster and perm your hair all you want, no one's going to mistake you for Hendrix. Where the line can get a little more blurry is when a successful artist betrays a huge degree of fan worship towards a far more famous talent. Well, the jury's always been out with Ryan Adams, his unfortunate 'Bryan with a silent B' stage name itself sounding like a tribute to an established existing star. He certainly looks and sounds the part, a perfect alt country troubadour avatar designed by complex computing algorithms no doubt, but time and time again something at the core of his art rings hollow.

His first solo release, 'Heartbreaker', was hugely indebted to Dylan, ridiculously so, and yet at the same time it was inarguably a well constructed collection. A carefully judged exercise in mimicry, it led to a bizarre listening experience that constantly switched between deep respect and even deeper cringe. This balancing act always seemed a highly precarious enterprise and so it proves. Fast forward to 2017 and Adams has long abandoned the painfully awkward self mythologising Dylan-isms and associated songwriting ticks of the debut; he's now set up stall in the already horrifically oversubscribed arena of Springsteen 'everyman rock' idolisation, only the songs are no longer strong enough to post bail on his copycat ass. I cannot think of a single reason why anyone would listen to this album ahead of the work of The Boss as Adams brings absolutely nothing of himself to the table. Not a gruff blue collar sausage. Nada.

Ryan has always been one of the more obvious musical 'actors' on the circuit but this performance goes a step too far; never has a tribute act garnered this much indie cred. I'm feeling queasy, get this phoney baloney no-mark outta my sight.



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user ratings (83)
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Jankus (4)
Professional sad guy Ryan Adams gets even sadder....



Comments:Add a Comment 
theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fuck you ;-]

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Peel the scales off from those eyes...this dude is a hack

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Boney this is a million leagues behind the Springsteen-isms of War on Drugs



It's even a few leagues behind the recent The Tallest Man on Earth album



With this much choice why would anyone bother with this?

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Jk of course. To be fair this is the third time he's done this exact sound so no one is really surprised by this.

Admittedly this reads more like a soundoff though, I suggest you flesh this out a bit more.

zakalwe
February 20th 2017


39456 Comments


I love the opener.

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ironically Doof Adams is if anything more genuine than usual on this album as he's recently split with his wife.

As for the sound, yeah it's straight up copying the 80s heartland rock sound but if you like Adams as a songwriter then you might enjoy this as much as the "real" thing.

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I wanted to try and write a one paragraph review but I cracked and put one break in.



It's impossible for me to flesh this out, there's nothing to talk about because the music is devoid of any interest or even reason to exist. It's mildly interesting in the context of the man's career but..I've largely avoided his career because he isn't very noteworthy :/



Heartbreaker is a good album but very poseurish and highly reverential

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Personal circumstances don't add up to authenticity every time - his split with his wife may have led him to want to write lumpy Springsteen pastiches or possibly it didn't. He's a chameleon but he's just too effective a one - he hasn't got a single signature of his own, he hasn't any style, he has nothing to say.

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think if you dig through his career you'd find a surprising variety.

The dude doesn't really have his own sound but I enjoy him as a vocalist most of the time and he usually pulls off the sounds he tries pretty well.

The problem with Adams is that he has a relatively poor sense of quality control and he releases a shit ton of stuff - he's a great songwriter, but every great songwriter has to write a lot of bad songs too. The difference with Adams is that he just puts it all out there. You have to sift through the chaff but he's arguably written as many great songs as any other artist in the past couple decades.

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If you look at his social media and interviews he clearly has a deep passion for music and I think I hear that most of the time in his work.

Admittedly though he is an artist who's hard to claim you enjoy without any caveats.

instantradical
February 20th 2017


352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

LOL



This album rules, ever since Ryan switched his style to this blend of heartland rock and The Smiths with the 2014 self titled I've been hooked. Never cared about his predominantly alt-country or acoustic driven fare, it's good music but just not a style I enjoy. On the other hand there are great melodies and jangly guitars all over the place here, and good songwriting on top of that. Much like the 2014 album I like pretty much every song on this.



All the Springsteen comparisons are silly, Ryan's current style sounds more like Tom Petty than Bruce, and the Smiths influence is at least as strong as those artists anyway. A band like The Gaslight Anthem sounds (sounded?) infinitely more akin to The Boss (and completely different, on top of that) than RA ever has.

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm curious - what saves this from the 1?

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Listening to 'Ashes & Fire' album right now and again, it sounds pleasant but so nondescript it's untrue. Most people agree 'Heartbreaker' is his best...that's a generous 3.5 for me. The songs are generally good enough but the lyrics are insufferable in places and Adams himself just isn't all that engaging. Just one of those artists I find really weak sauce.

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

The extra .5 is it all sounds pleasant enough and like i said, he's a competent actor.



It doesn't offend the earbuds, it's certainly not an offensive noise, but once I zone in and engage the brain then in every other way it offends me.

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Have you heard any of his material from the Whiskeytown days? Stranger's Almanac is also an alt-country classic.

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I bet as part of a band he could be excellent.



He isn't an engaging solo song writer, lyricist or vocalist for me but, as part of a band, I could imagine him being highly proficient why not.

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I mean at the end of the day if you don't like the guy you don't like him and it's no big deal, there's a million other artists to listen to instead.

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Wow, imagine when instantradical claps his ears onto War on Drugs - will result in a head exploding orgasm of force 10 magnitude

theBoneyKing
February 20th 2017


24558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lol

The War On Drugs undeniably does this sound way better, I'll give you that.

DoofusWainwright
February 20th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

The Tallest Man on Earth's last album sounds way better



Hint: that's not a good thing



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