Adams can be critiqued in the filtering of his musical interest at times, and potentially periods or records are caught in transition, but I think more specificity and knowledge of Adams’s discography is really more deserving in this piece.
I get that the mythos of Ryan Adams can be a hard thing to tackle with projects that might miss the mark for some, but I think its fair to point out other records of his if the position is on the effectiveness of the subject matter being discussed. A comparison to an average singer songwriter seems weaker than comparing ideas to any number of songs on Adams Heartbreaker, or to a song like Please do not let me go. Or to the potential conceptual interest of covering pop ballads as another angle to examining the idea of making break up record. Adams has written catalogues worth of songs that examine ideas of the break up in countless ways with stand out uniqueness, despite their approachability. As the Boss’s Highway 29 is a divergence from Im on Fire so is Prisoner from many other Adams songs discussing the same thing potentially more successfully.
I think Prisoner is ambitous in a similar way that the Boss’s Born in the USA was from Nebraska. And that alone is something I applaud and encourage for any artist even if its not done as effectively. The interest in Adams trying to reconcile an unbelievable ability to make sharp songs that can coincide with his polarized interest is fascinating if nothing else. Especially when the reliancy is much more based on a sonic description oppose to lyrics. Its intentional at least and effectively done nonetheless. The question of enjoyment or on the potential of Def Leppard and Alt Country being converged seems potentially a more relevant question than Adams ability to describe something uniquely as he’s done it before. Still interesting insight.