Reviews Ryan Adams Prisoners B Sides

Ryan Adams

Prisoners B Sides

Ryan Adams is one of the 21st centuries most prolific songwriters. Like Springsteen on speed, he just can’t seem to stop, whether it’s country, blues, metal, or an assortment of other areas for which he has lent his voice, he is constantly pushing out something new. His drive to write and produce is a great thing and has provided an amazing catalog of songs in a relatively short period of time… something like 16 in 17 years. However… the one thing that Adams did not employ during that time was the use of an editor, and it shows with his records sometimes jagged and mismatched. 

This all seemed to change a bit with his self-titled masterpiece Ryan Adams in 2014, and his newest record 2017’s Prisoner is fine form from beginning to end. The Prisoner sessions revolved around the dissolution of his marriage to actress Mandy Moore and it shows. He wrote an obnoxious amount of songs during this time. Fortunately for us, he edited the main record, and put the backlog of songs that didn’t make the initial cut on a Prisoner’s B-Sides record as part of a boxed set. 

And… keep in mind that these are the jagged cutting room floor songs with names like “Are You Home”, “What If We Were Wrong”, and “Crazy Now” all seemingly pointing to where Adam’s headspace was at at the time of writing the record. “Juli” clips along at that slow deliberate very Adams-ish pace. “No Words” is a pop-rock red velvet cake complete with hand claps and “Broken Things” is picking at a guitar with the trademark Adams yodel overtop in his vagabondish way. There is nothing outlandish on this record, and only decent songwriting, in his form, that for anyone else would have been more than just decent. 

“Too Tired to Cry” is a 6 minute opus of ethereal heartbreak and almost indecipherable wording along a strong, gated backing drum track full of a melting glacier. It’s a great song that should have made the actual Prisoner album if it fit…. But it doesn’t… so here we are. Let’s hope he continues this focus moving forward. 

7.8 / 10Brian Furman
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