Since breaking from alt-country band Whiskeytown in 1999 Ryan Adams
has been known for popping out an album practically every year, but after a three year hiatus he is back with his self-titled 14th album. It is clear why, after such a prolific career, Adams has decided to name this album after himself. He's settled down, gotten married, quit drugs and alcohol, and allowed himself to do some serious soul searching.
The stand out song, "My Wrecking Ball", comes in at the heart of the album where it rightfully belongs. Beautifully confessional, this song showcases Adams' greatest talent: his lyrics. The words admit to sometimes forgetting what's important, and needing to be brought back to earth. Just his voice and an acoustic guitar, and unadulterated sincerity.
Unfortunately the rest of the album doesn't have quite the same effect. The formula quickly presents itself, and the tracks become predictable. Find guitar riff, rinse, and repeat, and the drum beats are so steady that they're almost lethargic. Things will pick up a little for the chorus, which is usually followed with a wailing electric guitar solo, but those moments of musicality are fleeting.
by Ryan Adams is about his personal journey to self discovery, and while the lyrics are genuine and illustrate his personal growth, musically the album doesn't live up to the rest of Adams' cannon.