Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Dec 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Rising From the Ashes

music_RyanAdamsRyan Adams invokes the past in his latest effort, ‘Ashes & Fire’

Ryan Adams doesn’t always make it easy to be a Ryan Adams fan. After capturing indie souls with Heartbreaker in 2000, and then the world’s attention with 2001’s Gold, the 36-year-old North Carolina native has been playing Russian roulette with his musical style.

From honky-tonk, to a sci-fi metal concept album, to a few hip-hop tracks released on his website, Adams has wandered far from the alt-country genre he helped establish with his band, Whiskeytown, in the mid- to late-’90s. His prolificacy was legendary, averaging 1.3 albums a year. Then came a few books of poetry, followed by the announcement that he had sworn off touring altogether and was moving to the south of France with his new wife Mandy Moore.

Thankfully, the singer-songwriter has broken his word on touring, and his latest effort, Ashes & Fire, is a throwback to vintage Adams, full of all the heartbreak and acoustic guitar that made Elton John call him “a beautiful songwriter.” Fans rejoice: the prodigal son returns to the Rio Theatre on Oct. 17, as part of a sold-out series of solo dates on the West Coast.

Ashes & Fire opens uncharacteristically: instead of stomping out a shit-kicker first track, rife with cigarette smoke and pigeon-toed cowboy boots, Adams gives you the feeling you’ve stumbled into a deserted Nashville bar with “Dirty Rain,” a ballad remembering—but not longing for—a past love. For fans, it’s an invitation to fall back in love with the genius behind “When the Stars Go Blue,” as he croons: “Last time I was here you were waiting/ You ain’t waiting anymore.”

Throughout the album, Adams revisits the wide-open spaces of acoustic sound, augmented with organ and fresh string arrangements, explored on Gold. “I was ready to make some quieter music for a while,” he says.

To achieve that sound, Adams teamed up with producer Glyn Johns, known for his work with The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench and singer Norah Jones also lend their talents to the album. But whether or not Ashes & Fire will launch the superstardom so many believe Adams is destined for, fame doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. “It would have been interesting,” he says. “But I don't write a song with that in mind. I write a song to be a better song—200,000 sales is an honest living.”

Songwriting helps keep Adams grounded, as he pens musical tales of the places he’s been. “I'd been a lonely person all my life, [so] I'd go to these places in the evening,” Adams says of the bars he’d frequent in New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles. “I liked the warmth of that environment, and everyone who had problems, they just disappeared.” Adams revisits these locations on his first single, “Lucky Now,” where he recalls black bags of trash in the snow, a city of neon, and how “the lights will draw you in/ And the dark will take you down/ And the night will break your heart/ But only if you’re lucky now.”

But it’s been 11 years since Heartbreaker, and Adams is no longer an inconsolable twenty-something. His signature longing is apparent in the closing track, “I Love You But I Don’t Know What to Say,” as he sings, “When the night is silent and we seem so far away/ Oh I love you but I don’t know what to say,” yet it’s a longing soothed. “It felt good to ask, ‘What am I really capable of?’” he says. “I’m hearing that and it’s shocking. I’m glad that it’s translating.”


Ryan Adams plays a SOLD OUT show at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $36. For more information, call 423-8209. Photo: DavidBlack

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire