One of my favourite artists of all time is Ryan Adams. Often having to say “No. R-Y-A-N, not Bryan” when discussing him or recommending him to friends, it’s nice that I’m part of a relatively niche fanbase. Despite some of his songs appearing in relatively successful films in the past, the fanbase never seems to grow and I could count the number of people I know that are aware of this sheer talent on my hand. This being said, people started to recognise Ryan Adams as “the bloke that’s divorcing Mandy Moore” back in 2015. Because of the obsession people tend to have with celebrities once they’ve gone through a break-up/divorce; I can envisage the fanbase increasing in the next year due to the theme of Adams new music (more on that below) which brings me to this, the brand new single which serves as our first glimpse into Adams next album, Prisoner.
Do You Still Love Me? is firstly, classic Ryan Adams. Tackling love from the angle of a now split couple, it’s clear that this is an extremely personal song and no doubt, going to be his most personal album to date. It’s probably a question we’ve all internally asked ourselves at one point or another about the person we love. The song makes me wonder if this is how he felt at the time of their break-up or if it’s a feeling/question he has now that they’re no longer together. Whatever the answer is, the song is beautiful, emotive and powerful and if this is our first taste of what to expect from the album, I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Following the rather public divorce between himself and Mandy Moore, Adams has gone on record with the following statement regarding the theme of the album:
“I think the theme of this record is that we’re all prisoners of some desires, in that the very things we love are the things that hold us hostage and keep us trapped,” he told NME. “Either we are the cage or we’re in the cage and it’s trying to figure out in every situation which of those things is real.
“For me, the big shadow illuminating things for fans will be that this record is directly related to my divorce…I think that’s what fans will read into it and to the things that happened and what was going on inside me. How I endured it and where I was in my emotions at that time – and they wouldn’t be wrong. I didn’t want to make a mistake and avoid it…I believe in art, and it sounds so stupid – but I think it’s more stupid to pretend that things aren’t happening to you and write some bland fucking useless bullshit. I don’t wanna be that. I don’t wanna write music for people on fucking boats y’know, that’s not who I am”
“So I chose to honestly say: I’m going through this. I chose to extract and evaluate and find out what part of this pain and seduction and mistrust are worthy of being extracted and then re-romanticize it in some way. Because ultimately, however bad a situation is for people, especially if it’s a condition of love or some internal dialogue, I think most people would agree that when you look back on it, those times are well-remembered. I think in a lot of ways that’s what every John Hughes movie is about…its saying you know when you were in that situation and you were totally confused about life…wasn’t that awesome?”
Adams has never been one to shy away from his feelings and given that the majority of his songs are love songs, this theme isn’t really anything new but what is new, is the fact that he’s now openly discussing the divorce whereas before, I’ve read interviews where he would stop and refuse to answer any questions whatsoever about Mandy. I can only assume this was because he was penning this new album and wanted to save “his side of the story” and portray them through the best way he knows, incredible music. Before the new album is released, do yourself a favour and visit Adams discography. I guarantee you’ll find several songs on every album that you can relate to some point of your life. Who knows, you might even discover that you have a new artist in your favourites list. Don’t forget to thank me!
Prisoner is available 17th February.
01. Do You Still Love Me?
04. Haunted House
05. Shiver And Shake
06. To Be Without You
07. Anything I Say To You Now
09. Outbound Train
10. Broken Anyway
12. We Disappear
Words by Robert Smith(@robertmsmith)