Artist Spotlight: Ryan Adams

-Evan O’Brien, Roots N Blues Intern

Heartbreak is never a good thing, but Ryan Adams finds a way to make it beautiful. The 42-year-old singer/songwriter from North Carolina has produced 16 studio albums across the last 17 years. The latest,“Prisoner,” was released this past February.

Adams got his start in the 90s with the alternative country band Whiskeytown. In 2000, he went solo and recorded his first solo album, Heartbreaker. It featured “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” including backup vocals from fellow Roots N Blues artist Emmylou Harris. It proved to be very well-received by the media.

Over the course of the next nine years, Adams continued to produce music and recorded nine albums in that time. While each album slightly boosted Adams’ popularity, there were some bumps in the road. The most notable of these being the incident in 2002 at the Grand Ole Opry, when a fan continuously interrupted Adams’ set to ask for the Bryan Adams song, “Summer of 69.” This prompted Adams to halt the show, offer the man money, and tell him to leave. Thirteen years later at the same venue, he actually covered the Bryan Adams song that sparked the controversy.

Despite the hiccups along the way, Adams has seen great success. This includes five Grammy nominations, numerous television appearances. Adams also received high praise from one of pop music’s biggest names Taylor Swift, after he covered her 2014 Grammy award winning album 1989 in its entirety. Despite the mixed reactions from critics, Adams’ version of the album was well received by both Swift and her army of fans.

This year’s release of “Prisoner” marks the first album since Adams’ divorce with actress Mandy Moore. The influence of this big life event is definitely prevalent throughout the album, which resulted in some of his most powerful work to date. Tracks like “Do You Still Love Me?” and “Doomsday” are hauntingly beautiful pieces of work that show the raw emotion that can come from such a trying situation.

This fall will be Adams’ first appearance at Roots N Blues and marks the first time Adams has played in Columbia since 2009. Adams, whose set will close out the festival on Sunday, is an incredible talent who knows his way around the stage (and the guitar of course). After seeing him perform at Forecastle last summer, I can attest that Adams will put on a show you will not want to miss.

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