Published on March 21, 2017 by JB
Released on February 17, 2017
Color by numbers for the prolific Adams
It’s chic to instantly label any dark album following a big divorce as The breakup album. It’s been cast here on Ryan Adams’ new album Prisoner just as it was on recent albums this decade from Coldplay, Death Cab For Cutie, and even the undefeatable Sarah McLachlan. But Adam’s 2016 divorce from actress, singer, songwriter Mandy Moore is clearly the blanket covering this album, and it has no shame in doing so. Musically, it fits like a glove into Adams’ affliction with 80’s riffs from bands like Loverboy and Foreigner. Except here Adams represents those bad hair bands in a way that gives them newfound credibility. The limiting factor in 2017 is that Adams can make albums like Prisoner in his sleep. The opening ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ and the sublime ‘To Be Without You’ are stellar, but this is Ryan Adams mostly coasting in place, figuring himself out through the one vice that he knows better than anything else. Quite frankly, maybe he’s ok with putting out an album that isn’t his next Sgt. Pepper. This feels like the final chapter in his marriage diary that he wants to publish, before moving onward in a new direction next time.