Prisoner is the 16th studio album by the exceedingly talented Ryan Adams, offering an emotional and raw depiction of love and heartache. However, it would be too easy to conflate this record into a mere breakup album following Adams’ divorce to Mandy Moore, let alone being entirely disrespectful to his musical talent.
The record opens with ‘Do You Still Love Me’, a song synonymous with 80s rock and roll through its blunt guitar, heavy drums and that distinctly American sound in Adams vocals, recognised in the likes of Springsteen and Bryan Adams. However, the mouth organ on the following title track replaces the all American anthem into something more sentimental, setting the tone for the rest of the album.
Evocative lyrics such as “I miss you so much I shiver and shake” and “Feel like I’m headed for a breakdown” scatter the record in their cutting honesty on the nature of heart break. This album is either one to avoid following a breakup, or crucial.
Prisoner is the type of album you can picture working well at a festival, despite the undeniable emotion, the record certainly has a summer feel and will work perfectly at festivals such as Greenman, where Adam’s is headlining in August.
At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I haven’t heard an album like this in a long time. I can’t help feeling that the record would be a perfect soundtrack to some 80s coming of age blockbuster, probably helped by the notable influence of Springsteen, ELO and AC/DC. Prisoner is one of those records that is rare in its honest and profound sincerity.
Adams has managed to take the despair of heartbreak and turn it into a beautifully constructed record.
(Image: Lyric Blog)