“Nothing much left in the tank/ somehow this thing still drives/ forgot what it needed/ but somehow it still survives” sings Ryan Adams on “My Wrecking Ball”.
On his self-titled album, Adams has so far gone into rekindling the flame of a past romance that he burns himself in the process. With a Robert Smith sense of emotional claustrophobia, he irrationally vacillates between holding on and letting go, insisting “it’s a slippery slope hanging around a wishing well”. Unlike his past records Easy Tiger and Cardinology, that are doused layers of almost too-slick production, his vulnerability is well translated into his no-frills self-produced live sound, which serves as an elaborated albeit less embellished sequel to the 2004 “Come Pick Me Up”.
Though there are no harmonicas on this album, there are prevalent traces of how dizzyingly happy this relationship once made him in his hesitation to move on. From the raw lyrics of “Shadows” to the palpable anguish in “Am I Safe”, Adams plays the part of a man who has drowned himself in a relationship to the extent he has lost perspective. He is in limbo, engulfed in nostalgia induced from taunting memories. On “Kim”, you can find him scratching a name on the wall of a Sycamore tree, and you too can hear names ringing like false alarms. Part reverie of love, part haunted account of a paradise lost, he is human, lost in limbo. “I can’t stand/ can’t let go/ underneath my feet it’s miles/ Nowhere to go”.
Shadows of his 2004 album Love Is Hell also linger on this record in the way his ability to maintain balance is eradicated. However, he trades in the extra fuzz and greasy guitar work for catchy melodies in straightforward arrangements. He is even ready to the play the fool to renounce time and retrieve the past on closer track “Let Go”: “Cross your fingers behind your back and lie to me/ Tell me it’s ok and you’ll fix everything.”
As wonderwalls rise and fall and leave him without hope of redemption, there is barely an illusory entity left of Adams. As he sings on the leading single,”Gimme Something Good”, it’s like ‘there’s no tomorrow/ barely yesterday’. Ryan Adams fans, this album might not be as radio friendly as Gold, but you’re definitely in for something good. This album delivers.
Key tracks: My Wrecking Ball, Kim, Let Go