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Albums Of The Week: Ryan Adams | Prisoners (Live)

The singer-songwriter offers a stripped-down performance of his 2107 breakup LP.

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:


For a guy who churns out studio albums like there’s no tomorrow, Ryan Adams is surprisingly parsimonious with the concert recordings.

Prisoners is only his third official live release, following two Carnegie Hall sets released in 2015 and 2023. As the title makes perfectly clear, it’s a complete track-by-track performance of his 2017 breakup album Prisoner, documented at some undisclosed place and time with an uncredited band. This version is more stripped-down, sombre and atmospheric than the studio recording — the most obvious difference: No drums — which only accentuates the raw intimacy and heartbreak of the tracks. And if the lyrical, Clarence Clemons-style sax solo on the title track doesn’t make you mash the repeat button on the track over and over again, I feel bad for you. Wherever and whenever this show took place, folks got their money’s worth. But then, you always do with Adams.