If you ignore the fact that any of his sadder, sappier new material could be about his wife, a post-Walk to Remember Mandy Moore, Ryan Adams remains one of the most listenable and versatile singer-songwriters just this side of Americana. Three years ago, he married Moore, sobered up, disbanded his alt-country band the Cardinals, took a break from touring and began stockpiling all of his previously unreleased material. Through his October solo album, Ashes & Fire, we're led to believe that Adams escaped this period unscathed and unfazed, a little raw for the wear but with a deeper, clearer and more intimate shade of voice and self-awareness than we've seen from him in years. In making himself more vulnerable, Adams has made his second act unmissable.
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