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Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams
Released: Oct 2011
Label: Capitol Records
Ryan Adams has finally mellowed. After a decade of absurd prolificacy and uncouth behavior, alt-country's most volatile son sits pleasantly behind the whisper-quiet shuffle of Ashes & Fire, a soothing blanket of gentle guitars, bright organ, delicate piano. His lyrics are philosophical and apologetic: "Do I want to say the things I say/ When I know they're wrong?" "What am I doing here?" "Am I really who I was?" Perhaps it dips too often into David Gray soft rock, but oh well. Norah Jones guests throughout, tip-toeing and deferential; "Save Me" marks Adams as worthy of redemption.
Rob Harvilla