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Albums Of The Week: Ryan Adams | Heatwave

This raucous rocker recalls the gritty punk of the singer's former Manhattan home.

You can call Ryan Adams a lot of things — and a lot of people have, justifiably or not — but you cannot call him lazy.

For those who haven’t been keeping score at home, the absurdly prolific singer-songwriter and guitarist has released more than 30 albums in the past 23 years. And is seems he’s just getting warmed up. While the rest of us were still nursing hangovers and wiping 2023’s sleep out of our eyes on Jan. 1, Adams surprised-released five new albums. Yes, you read that right: Five new full-length releases. To be precise, four new studio sets and one live album. A grand total of 77 songs that run the gamut from ragged roots-rock to moody meditations and even pugilistic punk salvos. What do they have in common? They’re all pretty goddamn fantastic. Case in point:


I am not gonna lie: Of the multiple versions of Ryan Adams that populate the landscape, I prefer the one that rocks out.

So much as I dig all five albums in this batch of releases, I am particularly partial to Heatwave. Especially the first track: A 70-second blast of Dead Boys-style punk called Lies. It more or less sets the tone for the rest of the throwback affair, much of which sounds and feels like it comes straight from the gritty, graffiti-covered Lower Manhattan sidestreets of Adams’ former New York stomping grounds. To that end: The guitars are clanging and crunchy. The drums thump and pound. The riffs are ragged and raw-boned. The performances are endearingly ramshackle. The murky vocals are dusted with distortion or engulfed with echo. Put that all together, and you end up with a set list of songs that sound like they could have been recorded live off the stage at CBGB back in the glory days. Except for the ones that bring to mind vintage Jesse Malin or classic The Rolling Stones. Crank this one up in the car. Or anywhere else in the landscape you happen to find yourself.