Ashes & Fire - Ryan Adams
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. Oct 14, 2011
    70
    The melodies remain fuzzily in focus, so Ashes & Fire winds up as ever-shifting mood music, sustaining an appealingly lazy haze residing somewhere south of melancholy.
  2. Oct 12, 2011
    90
    "I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say" is a perfect finale to a near perfect album by a performer who seems, at least for the time being, to have learned to focus his wide-open talents on one narrow vein of material, and in the process has struck pure gold.
  3. Oct 11, 2011
    65
    Adams evokes the goodwill of his masterpiece as a singer, anyway, even if the songwriting doesn't come close.
  4. Oct 18, 2011
    80
    Ashes & Fire is an understated gem. [Nov 2011, p.96]
  5. Nov 8, 2011
    80
    Here, at last again, is the Ryan Adams of Heartbreaker - creating a uniformly strong collection of songs, singular in mood, each articulated by a voice that, whilst more lived in, remains a lovely instrument. [Nov. 2011, p. 137]
  6. Dec 22, 2011
    60
    Despite its lulls, Ashes & Fire sounds like a new beginning. [Nov 2011, p.101]
  7. Oct 11, 2011
    70
    The hush on this mellow set may be due in part to Adams' recent hearing problems. Either way, it proves he doesn't need noise to blow you away.
  8. 80
    Nostalgia aside: this is an album worth celebrating now.
  9. Oct 17, 2011
    75
    Ashes is everything Ryan Adams records usually aren't: uniform in sound and mood, emotionally centered, and straight-arrow consistent, sometimes to its detriment.
  10. Nov 3, 2011
    60
    Overall, Ashes & Fire is a delightful Saturday-morning House-cleaning music. [Oct 2011, p.96]
  11. Oct 7, 2011
    80
    It may put people off who were more attracted to Adams' more tortured side, but Ashes & Fire makes for a compelling reboot for a man who could, once more, become a contender.
  12. Oct 3, 2011
    70
    He's purely elegant throughout.
  13. Oct 5, 2011
    60
    While it might not be a consistent classic like Heartbreaker or Gold, there's flashes of those earlier triumphs from Adams' career on Ashes & Fire.
  14. 83
    It's all so gentle that it's nearly sleepy, but in a nice way.
  15. Oct 6, 2011
    80
    Ashes & Fire burns with purpose.
  16. 80
    The recordings have the warmth and pop of a vinyl record, creating a perfect environment for Adams to honor his influences.
  17. Oct 25, 2011
    40
    Its total lack of affectation is the album's biggest problem. It feels like it's sequenced to fit some expectation of what types of songs an album should have.
  18. Oct 17, 2011
    82
    Ashes & Fire, is pretty damn good.
  19. 80
    Ashes & Fires remains compelling throughout thanks to its peaks and valleys.
  20. Sep 29, 2011
    60
    Add it all up and you get a typical Ryan Adams release.
  21. Oct 10, 2011
    50
    Adams's songwriting may be as sharp as ever and better edited than it ever has been, but Ashes & Fire makes some terrific songs sound impossibly bland.
  22. Oct 13, 2011
    60
    This mature Ryan Adams gives us 11 songs on Ashes and Fire that are perfectly fine, a few bumps but most of it is solid with a few that really stand out.
  23. Oct 5, 2011
    80
    This is an album that delivers more and more with every listen, showcasing an artist maturing with grace and poise.
  24. Oct 12, 2011
    82
    Though the sultry Southern flavor his fans love him for is still very much present, Adams remains an artist who refuses to put out the same record twice-and considering his pace, that is certainly something special.
  25. Oct 17, 2011
    61
    Ashes & Fire might mark the first time he could ever been described as simply dull.
  26. Oct 11, 2011
    80
    Following an uncharacteristic hiatus, singer-songwriter Ryan Adams returns with this lovely, low-key effort.
  27. Oct 10, 2011
    70
    For an album heavily predicated on Adams' historically hit-or-miss songwriting, Ashes & Fire is surprisingly steady.
  28. Oct 11, 2011
    100
    Embedded in a world of crashing, pounding pop music, Adams' solo rawness brings with it sweet release.
  29. 88
    Ashes & Fire is as close as it gets to the brilliance of his first post-Whiskeytown offering, Heartbreaker.
  30. Oct 10, 2011
    80
    I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say perfectly concludes a haunting album that truly reveals Adams' bruised soul.
  31. Nov 29, 2011
    50
    Despite the obvious care for craftsmanship, no standouts emerge.
  32. Ryan Adams has delivered the goods right now and he appears to be more focused and in a better creative space than he has at any other point in his career.
  33. 40
    There's barely a shred of truly memorable content here.
  34. Oct 21, 2011
    80
    A softer collection of songs, harnessing more sincerity than his last two general-release LPs (as opposed to Orion, which was online-only), Easy Tiger and Cardinology.
  35. While it may, at times, sound a little too familiar--A&F is almost good enough to banish the memory of the dozen or so albums--influenced by grams not Parsons--since.
  36. Oct 10, 2011
    60
    It hasn't the shiver factor of his debut but there's pleasure in such smooth, elegantly crafted songs after his recent strainings.
  37. 60
    It's a solid, not spectacular album with a few very fine songs.
  38. Oct 17, 2011
    100
    Underneath the almost soporifically smooth old-soul and country polish, Adams's ear for a delicate melody and feel for the shadowy nuances of emotion give this latest chapter beautiful depth.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Jan 22, 2012
    9
    This is Ryan Adams at the height of his songwriting abilities. After a brief hiatus, he has returned with an album of finely crafted, stripped down songs that showcase Adams' vocal prowess. Accompanied by only an acoustic guitar on most songs, this album is the perfect companion for relaxing afternoons and introspective evenings. Favourites include "Invisible Riverside", "Ashes & Fire", and "Dirty Rain". Full Review »
  2. Jan 4, 2012
    9
    Fundamentally, this album is a grower. Definitely not one for newcomers as it really shines in the light of Ryan's other work. However, this is his strongest work since Cold Roses. Heartfelt, masterful and beautiful, this collection takes on all Ryan's styles and strips away any heavy instrumentation, allowing the gorgeous songs to shine through. Full Review »
  3. Nov 18, 2011
    9
    I have proceeded with caution with Ryan Adams in the past as he seems to have accumulated a large catalogue music in a short time span - much I have found inconsistent, great, not-so-great and forced, at times. Ashes & Fire is THE BEST Ryan Adams album to date. Soothing melodies in the mold of say, Ray Lamontagne...sums this one up best. I really liked sings Ashes & Fire, Invisible Riverside...not forced this time at all...he really allows the music and lyrics to develop at their own pace. One of the very few albums I really liked this year. Full Review »