New Music Reviews are back on HF&MS, with my favourite artist of the last 10 years re-emerging from his hiatus after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled at him in The New York Times in Feb 2019. These allegations even came from his ex-wife Mandy Moore. This album is good, not great (like Gold or Prisoner or Heartbreaker or 1989 for that matter) and it merits the time of any Adams fan.
BUT it is also just tainted by the events of the last few years. Why should this be? I am a big Adams fan with many playlists in my Tidal account that are titled or themed by Adams’ tracks. I had a ticket for the Albert Hall gig that was lined up for that spring when these allegations came out.
The problem is, there has apparently been no apology or sign of regret that I have read about. I understand he did express regret but only in the Daily Mail online and not to those who needed it. I do not need it, but I would like to know that 1. he has learnt something from the episode and 2. that he has sought to help those who obviously had grievances against him. And he plans to do something about it.
Until I know these things have happened, or been attempted, I am not going to enjoy his music with quite the same passion as I used to; for example, The Carnegie Hall recordings that I shipped over on six sides of vinyl from Pax Am used to be my late-night fireside album of reflection with all the emotion associated with the lyrics and the fantastic live music.
I still have his big Rolling Stone magazine interview where he talked of the song writing process and his journey but I feel he now needs to front up after going dark for two years and explain himself, not to me but to himself maybe and a forum like that (Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NME, HF&MS?) may offer a path to redemption for him and maybe a rekindling of our passion for his music. I used to love the idea of a shambolic grass smoking rock star writing an album every year for me, and me alone, but I fear that image will never be reconciled for me.
Adams was not charged in the end, and he managed to sneak out Wednesdays in Dec 2020 on his Pax Am label. There was a lot going on back then pandemic wise, so I sort of missed it, but I really like the album, in particular, Who is Going to Love Me Now, If Not You. It is such a melancholy track, self-centred (!) as usual but still beautifully produced and told. Wednesday has great Ryan Adams tracks, When you Cross Over could be from the early days but Big Colors is not a patch on Wednesdays, even the production seems to fall short, in my view.
Still, Big Colors merits attention from those who are interested, I do note that there are no Pitchfork/NME etc. reviews or news features on his release, maybe they too are waiting for a show of regret or more. I guess the other thing that I need to reconcile is that I do not examine the work of Micheal Jackson, Miles Davis and many (many) others in the same way, but maybe that is because I was so invested in Adams before. Indeed, I am just wondering if I’m being selfish, wanting Ryan Adams back.
Track Ratings[The idea behind the track rating system was to listen to an album a few times and give each track that ‘first listen to’ rating to see if it shines out of the wrapper, so to speak. And then at least guide the modern generation to a couple of standout tracks since a whole album seems to be a major commitment for most these days!]
Big Colours ****
Do Not Disturb ***
It’s So Quiet It’s Loud ***
F*** the Rain *****
What Am I ****
I Surrender ****
In it for The Pleasure ***
Middle of the Line ***
Summer Rain ****
Album – Big Colors
Artist – Ryan Adams
Label – Pax Am
Released – 10 June 2021
Download These At Least – Big Colors, F*** the Rain, I Surrender
Source – Qobuz, 24 bit, 48kHz
Player – Auralic Vega G1
Amplification – Chord Choral Etude Stereo Power Amplifier
Output – Kudos Cardea C10
Cables – Tellurium Q Black II XLR
Tracks – 12
Time – 39m
My Rating – 3.75 out of 5