Ryan Adams is an elusive character. Having produced numerous solo albums in the years since retiring the seminal alt-country act Whiskeytown, his latest offering ‘Prisoner’ is a reflection on love, relationships, and the breakdowns that occur in both. The opening track and first single Do You Still Love Me finds Adams in vintage form. Bright overdriven guitars, swirling Hammond organ and raw vocals deliver an impressive start to an album that continually wraps it tentacles around you the more you listen.
The title track Prisoner is a song that would sit comfortably alongside Adams’ work with his band The Cardinals. Folk tinged acoustic rock is something he does better than most and this is no exception.
Adam’s restraint is apparent throughout the album. He speaks to the listener rather than preaches. The lack of bombast reminds me of early Springsteen or Tom Petty. The subject matter he deals with on Prisoner makes this style of approach almost necessary, with a song like Shiver And Shake demanding it.
To Be Without You is my pick for second single. The track sees Adams returning to his alt roots, from the quietly strummed chords to the anthemic chorus, this could easily appear on his debut album Heartbreaker.
Overall Prisoner is delivered by an artist at the peak of his powers. While not breaking any new ground, this album could be considered up there with his best.