★★★★

Ten Songs Live At Carnegie Hall finds Ryan Adams at a calm crossroads in his career. Arguably, his hit-chasing days are over, and if the relaxed performance documented in this live album is anything to go by, perhaps the pressures that came with them are gone too.

It’s refreshing to hear Adams in a self-aware and comedic state of mind. The US songwriter is infamous for creating music to drown your sorrows in, and this live album shows he is not oblivious to that. He punctuates the morbid ‘Sylvia Plath’ lyrics with an audible, cartoonish wink. Later in the show, he sums up his songwriting style by strumming a minor chord and singing, “You’re fucked”. The hearty laughs from the audience indicate they’re all in on the joke too.

 

Ten Songs Live At Carnegie Hall encapsulates the point after heartbreak, when the sadness has faded and you can finally laugh about how messed up it was. Adams is living proof that after pathos, there is laughter.

 

It has long been said that Adams would make his best work locked in a room with nothing but a four-track recorder and a guitar. This albumlets you hear what his career might’ve sounded like if he did.

Ryan Adams’ Ten Songs Live At Carnegie Hall is available on Sony.