Out of Jacksonville, North Carolina comes an indie singer/songwriter who seems to captivate fans of MUSIC whether on stage or through his recordings. Ryan Adams has been going at it since he received his GED in North Carolina.
Ryan Adams was briefly in bands known as Blank Label and The Patty Duke Syndrome briefly formed country music group Whiskeytown before venturing off as a solo artist. In 2000, Ryan Adams released probably his most critically acclaimed piece of work as an artist entitled “Heartbreaker”. “Heartbreaker” is known for the classic “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and it showcases a storytelling sense, with a hint of punk rock attitude and whiskey tinged country in the music. The album featured Kim Richey and Emmylou Harris on backing vocals. The album was so well received that Elton John himself cites this album as that “shot in the arm needed” for him to start writing and making music again. Check out “Oh My Sweet Carolina” below.
In this album, this track was covered by Zac Brown Band in 2010 and contestant Paul McDonald sang “Come Pick Me Up” on American Idol.
In 2001, Ryan Adams released his biggest selling album entitled “Gold”. He had issues with the record company for them not wanting to make the album a double disc album, so he offered a five song bonus disc to the first 150,000 copies sold of the album. The album went on to sell almost one million copies worldwide. In this album, Ryan Adams recruited Adam Duritz of Counting Crows and the song “New York, New York” became a solid hit due to the aftermath of the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. “When The Stars Go Blue” was the biggest hit on the album as Stephen King included it in his 2006 book “Lisey’s Story”. The album would peak at No. 20 in the Billboard 200 in the U.K. and at No. 59 in the Billboard 200 for the United States Check out “When The Stars Go Blue” below!
In 2002, Ryan Adams released the album that he personally hated “Demolition”. The album received poor reviews as it was too slow and too plodding. Ryan Adams agreed with his critics. The album would peak at No. 29 on the Billboard 200 charts. At a concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, Adams lambasted a fan for a fan yelling “Summer Of ’69” by Bryan Adams during his set and demanded that the fan paid him $30, otherwise he won’t play another note during the concert
In 2003, Ryan Adams got in touch with his rock-n-roll side and released “Rock N Roll”. Ryan Adams describes that creating the album was “fun as fuck” and it was seen as a brief departure from his alternative country singer-songwriter vibe. Adams would recruit Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Parker Posey, and Melissa Auf der Mar(Hole, Smashing Pumpkins) for the album. The song “So Alive” would peak at No. 21 on the U.K. Singles Charts.
In 2004, to the dismay of Ryan Adams and his relationship with Lost Highway Records, Adams released the album “Love Is Hell”. This album was a departure from “Rock N Roll” as Adams went back to his “Heartbreaker” roots to create something more complex and more emotionally damaging. The cover of “Wonderwall” by Oasis is one of Adams’ biggest hits as it peaked at No. 27 on the U.K. Singles Charts. Adams would have Marianne Faithfull and Leona Naess on backing vocals for a couple of tracks for this album.
Ryan Adams would break his wrist at a concert in Liverpool in 2004 and had to relearn how to play guitar. After being inspired by opiates and the music of The Grateful Dead, Adams and The Cardinals(his new band), would create the album “Cold Roses” in 2005. The album would draw rave reviews from The Guardian and USA Today. The album would peak at No. 26 on the Billboard 200. Later on that year Adams & The Cardinals would release “Jacksonville City Nights”. The album would sell almost 200,000 copies worldwide and it showcased Adams and his backing band creating the album live in studio. The album includes a cover of “I Still Miss Someone” by Johnny Cash. It also features a duet with Norah Jones on the track “Dear John”. Adams would release his third album in 2005 entitled “29”, which would peak at No. 144 on the Billboard 200.
In 2007, Ryan Adams would release the album “Easy Tiger”. The album would debut at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and it would sell over 500,000 copies worldwide. In the track “Two”, Sheryl Crow provides background vocals and the album would chart in Canada, Estonia, and Switzerland for the first time in Adams’ career. “Two” is generally heard in the critically acclaimed movie “Hancock”. Adams would cover “Down In A Hole” by Alice In Chains for the 2007 release “Follow The Lights”. In 2008, Adams would release “Cardinology”, which would feature Adams in a dark place in his life due to a messy breakup with his girlfriend. The album would peak at No. 11 on the Billboard 200.
In 2009, Adams announced his retirement from Meniere’s Disease, which is the disease that affects the inner ear and it causes a person to have the constant sensation of vertigo(or that feeling where it feels like the room is constantly spinning). Adams and his backing band The Cardinals would play their final show and bassist Chris Feinstein was found dead in his New York City apartment. While on break and mourning the death of his bassist and friend, Adams would marry actress and pop singer Mandy Moore. Adams would play sporadic shows, write two poetry books and sign a record deal with PAX/Capitol Records. In 2011, Adams would release “Ashes & Fire”, which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 charts. Norah Jones and Mandy Moore would contribute on the album.
In 2014, Adams would recruit actor Johnny Depp to play guitar and to sing for his self-titled release. His self-titled album would peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Rock Charts and at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. Adams and Mandy Moore would file for divorce and Taylor Swift would release her smash album “1989” and Adams released “1989”, which is a cover by cover of Swift’s album in its entirety. In an interview, Swift absolutely raved about the cover album as Adams took his sorrow and sadness and put reimaginations on her pop tinged bubblegum pop album. Adams would receive loads of respect for not releasing a typical cover album.
In 2017, Adams would release “Prisoner”. Fans can pick up that album whereever music is sold!
Madness To Creation’s take: Ryan Adams is certainly a true artist in every sense of the word. He is a man that embodies creativity, emotions, and inspiration in his music. I never realized how diverse his influences are in his music in terms of where he draws inspiration from. Those artists range from Bruce Springsteen to King Crimson to Taylor Swift! Adams is a master of doing cover songs as he puts his own twist and interpretations of the song instead of just playing the song exactly as it’s meant to be heard. Personally, I prefer him and an acoustic guitar, it’s where he sounds pained and vulnerable, yet there’s that adversity that he wants to overcome in his songwriting. He is simply fantastic and honestly, I never really sat down to listen to him while writing this review up! It’s plain to see why he’s admired by multiple generations and by fans of many genres. Ryan Adams gets 10 out of 10 stars from Madness To Creation!
Fans can find Ryan Adams on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ryanadams