‘We’re all prisoners of desire’: Ryan Adams discusses new album Prisoner

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Ryan Adams drops by Double J on the day he announces his new album.

Ryan Adams has this morning announced his new album Prisoner will be out on Friday 17 February, and shared the first single from it, ‘Do You Still Love Me?’.


Naturally, we wanted to know what the record sounds like. Thankfully Adams is in Australia at the moment and dropped by to talk to Myf Warhurst about the album, its tone and the preconceptions people will have of the music following his split with wife Mandy Moore last year.

“I’m so prepared for people to foreshadow the record or the songs to be specific in ways that have to do with my personal life,” he said.  “But there’s never not been a time, no matter what my normal life is, where I’ve written records in succession that are sprightly, uplifting things.”

We'll all love someone... eventually, they will have to release us or we will release them.

Ryan Adams

It’s true, Adams has a string of pretty sorrowful songs in his catalogue. While he admits his own personal life is always going to creep into his work, he feels the overall theme of Prisoner is universal.

“My life will always go into my music and will always be a part of it. I feel like this record is more about what do you do with desire.

“We’re prisoners of desire. It’s the main thing everyone will have to overcome or deal with at some point or another.

"We’ll all love someone, we’ll all have people in our lives who are friends or loved ones or children or lovers. We’ll love them and then, eventually, they will have to release us or we will release them.

"It’s the nature of the impermanence of life.”

It’s the kind of music Adams has made his specialty since his brilliant 2000 debut Heartbreaker. He does pathos better than most, so he doesn’t shy away from it. Even though that’s not necessarily the kind of music he listens to himself.

“Somewhere along the way I figured out that that was my gift. I was able to talk about harder moments in music in a way that really mattered. It’s probably not ironic at all that, when you’re that kind of musician or writer, your favourite stuff to listen to is stuff that’s the total opposite of that. If we’re on our way to a show we’re listening to KISS or Slayer.

Those big rock influences go some way to explaining the sound of the first single.

“I had been wanting to encapsulate something that paralleled between my love of the bands Foreigner and Starship with mid-era KISS,” he said. “I wanted to do it in a way that felt right. Where it didn’t feel forced.”

Hear Ryan Adams’ full chat with Myf Warhurst on Lunch With Myf.