Published Oct 05, 2011It was almost impossible to believe Ryan Adams when he announced at the start of 2009 that he was quitting music. While it was understandable that the inner ear disorder he was suffering from at the time, along with the fact that he was about to tie the knot with Mandy Moore, had him preoccupied with other thoughts, his history as a songwriting workaholic suggested that this would only be a temporary hiatus.
Sure enough, by the summer of 2010, Adams was reporting that he'd just written a new batch of songs inspired by, of all things, Ronnie James Dio's funeral. These are about to be fully revealed on Tuesday (October 11) with Ashes & Fire, Adams's first album of new material since 2008's Cardinology and the first release through his label PAX-AM's new distribution deal with Capitol/EMI. Adams's 2010 PAX-AM releases, III/IV and the metal concept album Orion, were both recorded in 2006.
Ashes & Fire finds Adams returning to more bucolic surroundings musically, with only limited contributions from guests Norah Jones and Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench. Adams's main collaborator on the project was producer Glyn Johns (father of Adams's past production partner Ethan Johns), whose staggering list of credits includes the Beatles' Let It Be, the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, Led Zeppelin I, Who's Next, and many other rock masterpieces. In 1999, Johns had helped record strings for Pneumonia, the final album by Adams's former band Whiskeytown, but they had not worked together since.
"All the way back to [2001's] Gold, Ethan had thought it would be a good idea for me to work with his father," Adams tells Exclaim! "I originally did want to work with Ethan again on this one, but he was busy with Laura Marling and the Kaiser Chiefs, so I asked him if now would be a good time for me to ring Glyn, and happily, he was excited to do it too. He had total input throughout every step of the process."
Adams adds that fans should not think that the album's acoustic feel is a result of any lingering hearing damage.
"I still like to listen to extremely loud music, but I don't like to play it anymore. I actually didn't dig the volume aesthetic toward the end of [his previous band] the Cardinals; once the other guys started using in-ear monitors, they all tried to be louder than each other on stage, which forced me to get louder. I prefer to keep things chill when I'm writing anyway, and these songs really needed to be treated in that manner."
Adams is currently on a West Coast tour in the U.S. and will play a sole Canadian date in Toronto on December 10. You can see all the tour dates here. Also check out Exclaim!'s in-depth Ryan Adams Timeline here.
Ryan Adams - Lucky Now by theaudioperv