There’s still no definitive word on when Ryan Adams’ next album might emerge — maybe October, maybe not. But in the meantime, Ryan’s longtime mate Ethan Johns is releasing his first album under his own name this summer, If Not Now Then When? Ethan is one of Ryan’s collaborators of longest standing, having produced Whiskeytown’s 2001 swan song Pneumonia as well as multiple albums from Ryan’s solo catalog. His father Glynn Johns also produced Ryan’s 2011 album Ashes & Fire.
As for Ethan’s record, Ryan produced and played bass and drums on the first single, “Don’t Reach Too Far,” which they recorded at Ryan’s Pax Am Studios. It’s a stomping garage-rocker with a pulse along the lines of the Van Morrison/Them chestnut “Gloria,” and it looks like that might be Ryan playing bass in the tres-psychedelic video, too. Ethan explained more about how “Don’t Reach Too Far” came to be in a statement:
The recording was completely unplanned. Ryan and I were hanging at his studio in LA and I literally had books of songs on the table. This one came to the surface – a song birthed from a stream of consciousness. I had only ever sung it 3 times – once when I wrote it, and twice in the studio. Ryan kept the second take. It was so immediate – the energy was flying! Ryan just caught it right there and then – kind of like an instamatic photograph. If punk was invented by cowboys in Texas and beamed to a Sears and Roebuck reel to reel in a garage in Long beach in 1963, it might have sounded like this…
That also sounds a lot like the freewheeling, off-the-cuff vibe that prevailed as Ethan was producing Ryan’s first solo album, 2000’s Heartbreaker; see chapter 12 of “Losering” for more on that. And look for If Not Now Then When? on July 30, on Ethan’s own Three Crows Records.
ADDENDUM (5/24/13): Here’s video from Ethan’s album, for the song “Whip-Poor-Will.” Ryan’s name is in the credits, and it sounds like he might be one of the backup vocalists.