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Albums Of The Week: Ryan Adams | Star Sign

This ballad-centric set is the moodiest, mellowest & prettiest of his latest releases.

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:


“Here comes the moonlight,” Ryan Adams promises on Self Defense, the opening track to Star Sign. He’s not kidding.

This ballad-centric 10-song set is the moodiest, mellowest and prettiest offering in the roots-rocker’s latest batch of releases. Although his voice and guitar (usually acoustic) are still front and center, most of these low-impact cuts feature prominent keyboards — often a gently radiant electric piano — along with occasional strings, accordion, steel guitar and harmonica. The general vibe is melancholy, soulful and seductive, though there are also a few dashes of country and bluegrass in the mix. Most of the songs hit an imaginary sweet spot somewhere between Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Van Morrison. Which is a pretty wonderful place to be, if you ask me. What the dry-ice live shot on the cover has to do with that is anybody’s guess.