Prisoner Image
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

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8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

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  • Summary: The 16th full-length solo release for the singer-songwriter was influenced by his divorce from singer Mandy Moore.
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  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Genre(s): Alt-Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Country-Rock
  • More Details and Credits »

Top Track

Prisoner
Free my heart Somebody locked it up Still waiting on parole I can taste the freedom just outside that door Same gray walls Same great calls Mmm, I... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. 100
    Adams assembles a stunning scrapbook that captures heartbreak in an intimate array of snapshots, a collection that marks his most accomplished record since Heartbreaker.
  2. Feb 16, 2017
    90
    Prisoner isn’t a heartbreak record--it’s potentially the heartbreak record, for my generation at least. Turns out sadness really is quite the currency.
  3. Q Magazine
    Jan 25, 2017
    80
    A broken heart has long been the conductor for Adams's talent--it's a testament to the quality here that he sounds so thoroughly broken this time. [Mar 2017, p.107]
  4. Feb 21, 2017
    80
    Here he turns in a set of fine, affecting songs, from the 80s soft rock of Anything I Say to You Now and Do You Still Love Me?, to the more introspective We Disappear, which recalls Paul Westerberg at his most intimate.
  5. Feb 17, 2017
    73
    It’s a beautiful sounding collection, no question. Sometimes, though, Adams’ exacting, just-so approach to the sonics undercuts the power of his lyrics.
  6. Feb 16, 2017
    70
    In spite of the abundance of retro rock references, Adams' gut-spilling lyricism and vulnerable vocal performances (a waver here, a crack and a tremble there) still give Prisoner enough heart to steer it clear of sounding like a washed-up cliché.
  7. Mojo
    Jan 25, 2017
    60
    Ultimately Prisoner is tethered by sturdy, familiar images of tightropes and trains. [Mar 2017, p.94]

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Dec 4, 2017
    9
    The title track "Prisoner" is the most beautiful love song I have heard in a long time. I put it in the league of "Summer Wind" by FrankThe title track "Prisoner" is the most beautiful love song I have heard in a long time. I put it in the league of "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra. This album has 2 more exceptional songs "Breakdown" and "Tightrope".
    The whole album doesn't have a weak track. I wish Ryan Adams a long life and that he finds a soul partner whether it be in this material world or the spiritual world we end up in.
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  2. Sep 26, 2017
    9
    Ryan Adams clear learned alot about melody and writing pop songs when he dismantled Taylor Swift's "1989" and reassembled it in his own style.Ryan Adams clear learned alot about melody and writing pop songs when he dismantled Taylor Swift's "1989" and reassembled it in his own style. "Prisoner" take much of its sound and style from Adams version of "1989". I would argue it's got some of his catchiest stuff since "Gold" but these are pop songs in the same way that The Smiths wrote pop songs. Lyrically, "Prisoner" is reflective, deeply personal, often downbeat and dark. This is complemented by up tempo music, a trick used to great effect my Marr and Morrissey back in the day. The opening set of songs from "Do You Still Love Me" through to "Haunted House" is the strongest sequence of songs I've heard on any Ryan Adams record. Self regulation and self editing has often been a problem from Adams with the moments of genius in his back catalog diluted by the sheer quantity of material he releases. When you release so much so frequently, it's impossible to maintain a high level of quality. He's slowed down the output of late and "Prisoner" benefits hugely from this as it is concise, focused and every track stands up and justifies itself to the listener. Expand
  3. Mar 7, 2017
    8
    This was unexpectedly good. The album has a nice pace to it and flows along very naturally. It's easy to listen to, not pretentious, feel-goodThis was unexpectedly good. The album has a nice pace to it and flows along very naturally. It's easy to listen to, not pretentious, feel-good music. I wish I had more to say but it's overall just a really nice album and a solid effort by Ryan Adams.

    Standout tracks: Do You Still Love Me?, Anything I Say To You Now, Breakdown
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  4. Feb 23, 2017
    7
    A pleasant and competent album from Adams. No surprises here. It's pretty obvious that he needs negative motivation (his failed marriage) toA pleasant and competent album from Adams. No surprises here. It's pretty obvious that he needs negative motivation (his failed marriage) to write believable sad songs. Excellent production from Adams and good guitar playing. Expand
  5. May 14, 2017
    7
    While unable to make the ordinary sound extraordinary with a lack of rhythmic drive or strong melodic shape, Ryan Adams still creates aWhile unable to make the ordinary sound extraordinary with a lack of rhythmic drive or strong melodic shape, Ryan Adams still creates a decent, easygoing mood with a cool inward perspective that rock fans can enjoy. My Score: 125/180 (Good) = 6.9/10 Expand
  6. Mar 4, 2017
    7
    A melancholy album produced and performed completely by the clearly recently-divorced Adams, who bears his musical soul clearly on thisA melancholy album produced and performed completely by the clearly recently-divorced Adams, who bears his musical soul clearly on this record. No surprises and no incredible moments, but good stuff all around. Expand
  7. Mar 22, 2017
    4
    This album is pretty disappointing. I was genuinely looking forward to it, but after listening, it really is just pretty "eh"... Now, theThis album is pretty disappointing. I was genuinely looking forward to it, but after listening, it really is just pretty "eh"... Now, the band's performance and the production of the album are great. The songs are excellently written and performed when it comes to the instrumentation, and the production is pretty satisfyingly dark, without being so dark that it contradicts the almost - *almost* glammy feel Adams seems to be going for on the record. But, Adams's performance really brings this record down. His 'emotional singing' sounds whiny more often than not, and the song lyrics - I'm not gonna mince words - are pretty **** The concept of this album is basically 'Ryan Adams is a Prisoner in this turbulent and sometimes abusive relationship', which is all well and good, but Adams's songwriting often offers no new perspective or unique observation regarding this feeling that pretty much every human being on the planet has felt before, which makes for pretty bland songs... and that's when the lyrics are even making any sense... and yes, they often don't make sense. I don't mean the lyrics are cryptic, like what you would get from say, Death Grips or Marilyn Manson, I mean Adams often says things that sound deep, but really don't mean anything.
    } Case in point: "you're like a book whose pages are so torn"...Yeah, that's enough to make a twelve year old goth kid go 'oh my god that's so deep,' but.. the hell does that even mean? Like really, really think about it, what does that even mean? ...

    Now, there are four songs on this record that I enjoyed, "Shiver and Shake", "To Be Without "Anything I Say to You Now", and "Breakdown." ....but I think that if my memory isn't deceiving me, the 'book with torn pages' line was in one of these songs. Nevertheless, Ryan Adams' songwriting on these tracks is mostly decent, and the instrumentals and production are especially great on these tracks... but besides those, I'm really not feeling this LP. -Justin Howell
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