Ryan Adams is rarely at a loss for words. In the past, it wasn't unusual for his concerts to detour into frequent, rambling outbursts, with the singer-songwriter holding court on everything from fan behavior (watch what happens when someone inevitably calls out for Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69") to whatever random topic happened to catch his ire that particular evening.

Ryan Adams is rarely at a loss for words. In the past, it wasn’t unusual for his concerts to detour into frequent, rambling outbursts, with the singer-songwriter holding court on everything from fan behavior (watch what happens when someone inevitably calls out for Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69”) to whatever random topic happened to catch his ire that particular evening.

Yet Adams’ new, self-titled full-length opens with a surprising admission, the North Carolina-bred musician singing, “I can’t talk … I’ve got nothing left to say.”

He’s exaggerating, of course, but recent reports suggest the singer, whose history as a live performer could best be described as erratic, mixing moments of brilliance with fitful shows that crumbled as dutifully and inevitably as a child’s sandcastle, has settled into something approximating a comfort zone. Ryan Adams sounds similarly grown up, with the frontman referencing his less-steady past (“All my life been shaking, wanting something”) atop an unshakeable backdrop of graceful heartland rock. “I don’t want to lose control,” he huffs on “I Just Might,” and he sticks to his word throughout, holding his lane with admirable command.

Photo by Julia Brokaw