Ernie Francestine by Ernie Francestine  October 16, 2014 

Ryan Adams and Pax-Am Records

Ryan Adams released his 14th album on 9/9/14 titled "Ryan Adams" on Pax-Am Records. Fourteen records is a lot for any musician, let alone Adams who is only 39. However, he has managed to make his best sounding and most accessible album to date.

The story of Adams' self titled record starts with Pax Am studios, his brand new, vintage (analog) studio that houses all of his instruments, recording consoles and pinball machines. Pax Am originated when Adams was in high school, when he used to pass out mix tapes of his songs with the tag "Pax Am records" on them. As he puts it, "no one listened". Originally slated to release a Glynn Johns (Led Zeppelin, The Who, Bob Dylan) produced record, Adams scrapped the project at the last minute due to his excitement over his new studio that was sitting idle, un-used. I'd say he made the right decision. Not only is every song great (something Adams has struggled with in the past), but the style and sonic structure of the album is incredibly refreshing and vibrant. Leaning against a heavy 80's vibe (think Tom Petty's Damn The Torpedos meets The Replacements) Adams hits a homerun on all 10 tracks. His voice has never sounded better and all of the best aspects of what he does are present in this record: great songwriting, masterful production and stellar arrangements. One of my favorite aspects of the record is how his studio weaves its own narrative and sound through the whole record. It becomes a powerful instrument.

The guitars on this record sound great. With heavy use of a bigsby equipped Walnut Gibson ES-335 and a healthy dose of reverb, Adams lets the six string be the star of the show. An intentional guitar technique that Adams uses are arpeggios. He uses arpeggiated open chords with a capo underneath on a majority of the chorus' and it thickens up the sound to give the album another thread of continuity. The rest of Adams' band is top notch and the drumming by Jeremy Stacey shouldn't go unnoticed. Subtle, but very effective.

Standout tracks: (all of them)–but really, Feels Like Fire, Am I Safe and Gimme Something Good are all worth an initial listen.

http://youtu.be/802vbfZe9io

 

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