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At 39 years of age, Ryan Adams has now been putting out music for more than half of his life (his debut record with Whiskeytown, Faithless Street was released in 1995), with his currently tally standing at 14 solo studio albums (as well as a plethora of EPs and rarities). An impressive stat; especially when it's coupled with the fact that the three years between this record and his last full length, Ashes and Fire, is his longest spell without release.

Despite, and sometimes due to, the prolific nature of the North Carolina born songwriter's output, he's had a career which has seen significant highs and lows. Following the cult success of his releases with alt-country outfit Whiskeytown he was labelled by many as the saviour of the genre - one which he never set out to be involved in ("I do not fucking like country music and I don't own any of it" he proclaimed in a recent interview). Having released his timeless classic, Heartbreaker, in 2000 he was signed to the newly formed Universal imprint Lost Highway. Despite looking good on paper, this deal resulted in a decade and a half of animosity between the two parties; particularly over the frequency and style of the songs Adams was creating, and the format that they were to be released (details here). There were moments when the critics turned on him, struggles with hard drugs, a fall at a gig in Liverpool which nearly cost him his career, and an ongoing problem with the inner ear disorder Ménière's disease.

There's a commonly held view that in adversity great art is created. Whilst there may be at least some truth to this statement, an artist must also have the freedom and trust to be able to just go out and do what they want to do. Finally Adams stand in this position. Removed from the shackles of his former record contract and with new manager John Silva on board (Nirvana, Beastie Boys), the acclaimed songwriter moved from the unforgiving confines of New York City to his new home in LA. Here he has found happiness - "Every day, I'm living it pretty great, exactly as I want to, right here," and although Ryan Adams is still lyrically dark and evocative, there is a feeling that here he has been able to create a record exactly on his terms.

Striding confidently in the opening bars of the album, lead single 'Give Me Something Good' is as straight up a rocker as Adams has ever written. Jagged riffs are built over a bed of soft reverberating percussion, all the while an attitude-riden vocal delivery is snarled out atop. There's a haunting quality to 'Kim'. Lyrically it's a track rooted in nostalgia, telling the story of lost love ("walking down the street I saw you walk away, to be with him") with production which transports you down the old streets and makes you feel like a fly on the wall of his heartbreak.

On 'Trouble' and 'Am I Safe' Adams continues to illustrate his new found confidence and freedom as a songwriter, throwing out Tom Petty-esque Americana lead guitars over a series of startling melodic hooks. For those thinking that a complete departure from the bleak yet beautiful acoustic songwriting which produced tracks like 'Oh My Sweet Carolina' had occurred will be appeased by 'My Wrecking Ball'. Not only is this arguably the album highlight, it's also one of the finest reflective ballads he's written in a decade.

The relevance to the fact that Adams has decided to name this, his 14th solo record, Ryan Adams cannot be understated. This is a record created entirely on his own terms, and in doing so he has also produced one of the finest records of his remarkable career.

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