With his first studio album since 2015’s full-length cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989, North Carolina native and former Whiskeytown frontman Ryan Adams initially claimed he was going for a definitive arena-style Americana sound in the form of a massive double-LP utilizing hooks from every 1970s country rocker. In reality, Prisoner
is a more modest yet fairly definitive work. Sure, the first single “Do You Still Love Me?” bears suggestions of Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, but by the middle of this 12-track collection, Adams’ sound echoes some of his own finest singles.
Tracks like “Haunted House” and “To Be Without You” are exquisite, simply stated tales of despair. Turns out Adams doesn’t need to prove he can emulate four decades of song styles after all; perfecting the cry-in-your-beer genre with albums like this one is a fine goal.
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Rhett Miller, Jason Isbell, Josh Ritter