Album: Ashes & Fire
. . .
And so Ryan Adams continued to release music at an insane — though not Pollardesque — throughout the 2000s. Most of it was with a band, The Cardinals, and most of it was good and occasionally great. The exception was 29, his third album of 2005, which was neither with the Cardinals nor any good.
And while I enjoyed all of them just fine, none of the individual songs really ever broke through. Not until he dumped the band and made a classic singer-songwriter album with big name studio musicians and an even bigger name producer, one Glyn Johns. Which looking back on it, is weird: I usually prefer albums that singer songwriters record with their regular band, so I’m not sure what the issue was.
In any event, Ashes & Fire was both more acoustic-based and lusher than most of the Cardinals album had been, so it was somewhat hit and miss, but the hits were some of my favorite Adams songs since the Rock N Roll era, especially the title track and especially especially “Chains of Love.”
Chains of Love” was nearly all acoustic, featured a string quartet, and didn’t really have any drums. But because it was still an uptempo song, it didn’t plod, but instead, it kinda soared, especially on the chorus.
I can see the chains of love
Talking ’bout the chains of love
Can’t take us away
It also helped that Ryan wrote one of his best melodies for the chorus, and because Johns is a master of getting full arrangements that still have a lot of space, the strings bending around the acoustic guitar on the chorus — especially after Ryan just sings “the chains” and lets the melody fill in “of love” in your head.
In any event, as ever, it meant that Ryan Adams could still write heartbreaking songs that deserved your attention even as he was being totally awful in real life.
“Chains of Love” official music video
“Chains of Love” live on KCRW, 2011
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