Ryan Adams: The Destroyer Sessions…..

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 06-26-2008

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i know it’s been a while between installments of my Ryan Adams Artist Spotlight, but i’ve been doing things like graduating, moving, vacationing, and starting a new job. But now that i’m sorta in one place for a while, i can attempt to get back to my regular schedule – weekly New Digs, weekly Playlist Pulse, and the occasional RA post.

We left off on a review of the first of many of Ryan’s ‘unreleased’ albums – Exile on Franklin Street. The idea of this extended Artist Spotlight was to chronologically review RA’s oeuvre for the sake of:
1. exposing some new people to Ryan Adams
2. supplying my readers with hard-to-find Ryan Adams tracks
3. further instilling my admiration of his music through an in-depth back review

But…….. i got a little out of order by posting my Gold review directly after Heartbreaker. The simple fact is…. shortly before Heatbreaker and up to the recording of Gold, Ryan recorded 5 or 6 ’studio sessions’ that never made official releases. A lot of the songs on these sessions were re-cut and appeared later on his first 4 solo albums.

To be completely honest, the only reason i stumbled across the world of Music Blogs was because i was trolling around for b-sides/ unreleased songs from Ryan, and (judging from the majority of my referrals on SiteMeter) that’s also how many people find This Mornin’……

Ok, now i’m just rambling……..
i’ve said before that i don’t consider myself the most eloquent person, nor am i an expert music review-er – so maybe that’s why i stall when it comes to things like this. But i like to think i have great taste in music and simply want to expose a few people to the stuff that keeps me going throughout the day………


Unlike Exile on Franklin Street, The Destroyer Sessions are composed of real songs – no crazy guitar-wailing or screamo stuff – these are well-written, well-composed tunes that range from the omnipotent plaintive RA ballad to groovy, driving acoustic numbers.

This session was recorded just a few days before Heartbreaker at Pilot Studios in NYC. Gillian and Dave helped with the recording and their influence (and input) are present on a lot of the tracks. This was early enough in Ryan’s carrer that his strong roots/folk style is still very noticeable – in fact, aside from Whiskeytown’s stuff, this collection is his folkiest, which is probably why it continues to be some of my favorite material in his catalog.

By far my favorite unreleased Ryan Adams track, Poison & The Pain, shows up here. An echoey, backwoods tune, the song contains some well-placed harmonies and hand-claps that add a ghostly effect. How this one hasn’t seen the glory of an official release is beyond me, but then, i’ve never claimed to understand many of Ryan’s musical choices.

Only two songs from Destroyer reached an album: the masterpiece, In My Time of Need, and Bartering Lines - both mentioned here. The collection also includes a couple songs that received a lot of live play during Ryan’s extensive solo-touring around Heartbreaker: Born Yesterday, Statuettes With Wounds, and Hey There, Mrs. Lovely – that eventually morphed into These Girls and appeared on Easy Tiger. He caps off the session with a rare cover song – a dizzying, electrified version of Gillian Welch’s venerable Time (The Revelator).

The Destroyer Sessions
Fall 2000

mp3: Dreaming’s Free
mp3: Poison & The Pain
mp3: Time (The Revelator)

all zipped up…..

Be sure to check out the rest of my Ryan Adams Spotlight:
1. Whiskeytown
2. Heartbreaker
3. Gold
4. Exile on Franklin Street – or, just click here
for all of them on one page.



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