Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Oct 02nd
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

 

On the Waterfront

As the wharf celebrates its centennial, a personal reflection on its essential place in Santa Cruz’s history

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

GT This Week

Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Melinda’s

New Capitola bakery takes gluten-free goods to the next level

 

Do you think you are addicted to technology?

Santa Cruz  |  Unemployed

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”