Ryan Adams's career continues to meander through a doldrums sharply at odds with the verve exhibited on his early Heartbreaker and Gold albums.
Here, despite reverting to his core country-rock mode, he fails to rouse much interest, Glyn Johns's production lending a honeyed sheen to songs that frankly don't deserve it. There's an air of bogus tenderness about both the material and Adams's delivery, the general "poor pitiful me" attitude crystallised on tracks such as "Save Me" and "Chains of Love"; and although he might employ imagery of "stars exploding" in "Dirty Rain", he manages to make it sound about as interesting as accountancy. "Ashes & Fire" itself has the genially rollicking tone of his old Whiskeytown stuff, and the elemental metaphors of "Rocks" are pleasantly underscored with strings; but there's barely a shred of truly memorable content here.
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