Release Date: Apr 24, 2012
Record label: EMI
The sighs of relief from Ryan Adams’ fans on the release of 2011’s Ashes & Fire could’ve registered on the Richter scale. It wasn’t just that it was a great record but more they’d feared the “Alt-Country Wonderboy” (cough) had handed back his gun and Sheriff’s star and rode off into the sunset forever. After all, he’d quit the Dionysian hellraisin’ that bequeathed him outlaw infamy and, briefly, a Steve Austin bionic arm following a swandive off a Liverpool stage.
Recorded on the support tour for Ryan Adams' 2011 album Ashes & Fire, this 2012 iTunes Session finds Adams and band running through eight songs, relying heavily on tunes from the new record but also finding room for a cover of Bob Mould's "Black Sheets of Rain." For the serious Adams enthusiast, this is a nice bonus to a solid album from the ever prolific, often unpredictable singer/songwriter. .
The usually hyper-productive Adams has been coasting recently, with only three releases in the past four years. Here he stays solo as he did on his acclaimed 2011 tour, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing like he means it. He revisits a few tunes from 2000’s Heartbreaker, one of his Whiskeytown nuggets, some from his newest release and most notably an emotionally trenchant cover of Bob Mould’s “Black Sheets of Rain.” The hushed ambiance of the immaculate recording captures every nuance.
A funny thing happened while listening to Ryan Adams’s iTunes Session. I was prepared to deem it unnecessary, yet another iTunes cash grab full of neutered tunes which were much better on the studio albums they came to life on. Fortunately for Adams, he doesn’t suffer the same fate of the Wilcos of the world. If you thought he was stripped bare on Heartbreaker or even his most recent effort, Ashes & Fire, think again.