Posts Tagged With: Billy Bragg

Across the pond, kind words from R2 magazine

R2Review“Losering” has picked up another nice review in a far-away place, written by Jeremy Searle in the English music publication¬†Rock’n’Reel magazine. Since it isn’t on the web, I’m afraid I can’t lay the whole thing on you via a link; so look for it on paper in the May-June issue, which has the always-entertaining Billy Bragg on the cover. But here at least is the concluding paragraph:

Menconi is great at capturing the special moment, and draws on contemporaneous interviews with the man himself as well as practically everybody who was there. Many music biographies are written by fans and suffer accordingly but while Menconi makes no secret of his love for Adams’s music, and is not unsympathetic to his protagonist, he is clear-eyed and mostly objective. It’s an essential read for Adams’s fans and fans in general, but also a fascinating account of the birth of a star.

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Ryan Adams channeled: “Am I Unstable”

Last month, you might recall, Billy The Kid undertook the project of recording one Ryan Adams song per day throughout January, 31 songs in all. That was plenty ambitious, but here’s something even more ambitious in its own way: Elliott Humphries, a singer-songwriter from the North Carolina town of Burlington, has applied something like the Mermaid Avenue treatment to a Ryan lyric called “Am I Unstable.”

“Am I Unstable” dates back to September of 2000, when Whiskeytown threw together a last-minute impromptu show in Raleigh, and there’s every chance that was the only time it was ever played in public. Peter Blackstock was there and says it sounded like more of a sketch than a finished song; but it still made enough of an impression for him to hit up Ryan for the lyrics by e-mail, which Ryan sent and then apparently forgot all about. “Am I Unstable” disappeared into the ether as another of the hundreds of songs Ryan has left behind over the years, never to be heard again…

…Until Peter passed along the lyrics to Humphries, a major Ryan fan. Since the music had never been recorded and was long-forgotten, Humphries came up with a melody and a bridge to go with the verses, a process he admits felt “like messing with a Picasso.” He then recorded it, solo acoustic, and it’s fittingly raw and jittery.

“I tried to recapture what Ryan might have been thinking and feeling at that point,” Humphries says. “It was very difficult, took me like six months to get anything that I thought was decent. It’s hard writing behind your heroes because you second-guess yourself. Honestly, I wanted to write something that Ryan would be proud of if he ever heard it.”

Well, Ryan, if you’re out there: Take a listen. Also, “Am I Unstable” will be on the set list when Humphries’ band Be The Moon plays a show in Mebane on Saturday — the first time it’s been played live in nearly 13 years.

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