Review: Ryan Adam's 'Ashes & Fire'

"Let the needle move the record round/Until the walls cave in," Ryab Adams sings in "Dirty Rain."

Story highlights

  • The mood of Ryan Adam's new album is quietly apocalyptic
  • The hush on this mellow set may be due in part to Adams' recent hearing problems
  • It proves he doesn't need noise to blow you away
Which Ryan Adams is it this time? Crazed punk provocateur? Uncloseted metal fan? Classic-rocker?
Happily, it's the latter, in a largely unplugged mode.
Out is his twangy backing band, the Cardinals, and in is an A-list pickup team, with Tom Petty veteran Benmont Tench on keyboards and Norah Jones on piano and harmonies.
The mood is quietly apocalyptic: "Let the needle move the record round/Until the walls cave in," Adams sings in "Dirty Rain," one of a number of beautifully weary human-wreckage surveys.
The hush on this mellow set may be due in part to Adams' recent hearing problems. Either way, it proves he doesn't need noise to blow you away.