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Ryan Adams- Afraid, Not Scared
Ryan Adams told Q in reference to Love Is Hell, “I wanted to make a druggy suicide record; a record that really sounded like cracking up.” and he certainly succeeded. There’s a lonely claustrophobia-inducing atmosphere that blankets the entire record, along with large amounts of paranoia and hopelessness. Even the more uptempo tracks like Love Is Hell and This House Is Not For Sale have depressing and devastating lyrics. I hadn’t listened to this record in a while because I just couldn’t handle that much angst in one sitting, but I revisited it last night and was reminded how great an album it is.
Afraid, Not Scared is one of the album’s best tracks. The reverb on Ryan’s voice gives it a wearier and deeper tone than usual which matches the dark imagery and pain in the lyrics. The quiet desperation in the first half of the song builds up to the hypnotic and climactic repetitions of “I’m getting really cold and I’m looking at you, you’re not moving” where Adams’ voice expresses all the panic and terror that was being hidden under a calm veneer before, while the intrumental outro provides a crushing conclusion.
The album has plenty of other highlights, like Political Scientist, Ryan’s famous cover of Wonderwall, I See Monsters, and Hotel Chelsea Nights, so you should definitely give it a listen if you’re at all interested. At points it’s reminiscent of the Smith’s more somber moments (which makes sense since Ryan enlisted John Porter, one of their producers, to produce this record) or what I think would’ve happened if Jeff Buckley had lived and developed a drug problem. If that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what could.