Everyone has both fond and regrettable memories of love. It's a volatile thing, hard to earn but easily broken. We can always turn to a breakup song or a celebration of love in music to find some comfort in out feelings, but often times these songs won't hit upon the dearest and harshest points. You can relive all your memories of love in Ryan Adams' Prisoner, his brand new album that explores all ends of love.
The first thing to note about Adams' sixteenth album is that it's genuine. From his 2000 debut to now, he hasn't lost a sense of who he is and what he is capable of writing about. He finds himself recalling several situations he seems to hold dearly (whether for better or for worse); the sweet retrospection of 'Shiver and Shake' is just one example. The song is about the fear of seeing someone he once loved with another person, somberly chanting "I closed my eyes and see you with some guy / Laughing like you never even knew I was alive." It's a very personal track, while simple. The simplicity plays a role in it, though; much like Linkin Park's new single 'Heavy,' the simplicity of the lyrics makes the message all the more personal. It's not shadowed in trying to be overly poetic with metaphors or rambunctious words. It tells the story as he recalls it. The simplest lyrics can have the most profound effects.
There's a good mix of sentiments on this record, keeping everything interesting and changing while still under the umbrella of love themes. Opening track 'Do You Still Love Me' has the exact message you'd expect from it. It's a plea. It's dramatic and punchy demeanor makes it a very expressive track, the delivery of the choruses' direct line "Do you still love me, babe" packing quite a punch. 'Prisoner' follows up with a more defeated tone, country overtones seeping through. Harmonicas and guitar solos ring epically together, and rejoin again for the intro of 'Doomsday,' which has the same pessimistic vibe going for it.
There really isn't anything to complain about on this record. I'm not a fan of country whatsoever, but even this album's message really shines through. This album resonates perfectly in every fashion. From the warm, friendly vibes of 'Haunted House' to the beautiful and honest 'Tightrope' and its brilliant saxophone, there's nothing stopping this record. It's somber when it needs to be, and it's happy when it needs to be. It's balanced brilliantly.
Ryan Adams' Prisoner is more than an alternative country album. It's an album that tells the most honest tales of love and unity. It's an incredibly raw record that revolves around Adams' most personal and fond memories, both negative and positive. You'll be able to relive all your memories of love and friendship while you listen, so make sure you get the tissues ready. It's a bittersweet trip down memory lane.
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Favorite Tracks: Do You Still Love Me, Tightrope, Haunted House, Outbound Train
Least Favorite Track: Breakdown
Rating: 87 / 100
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