Maybe every promise anybody makes 

Is destined for the rocks
The longer it takes
Daylight is so close I can almost taste it
It’s all I got,
and it’s not right
Everything is broken in my mind
Ain’t no place to run
Ain’t no place to hide
Don’t wanna lose control
Baby I just might.”

Is there any better antidote to any sick feeling than the perfect guitar line? No, not really, and so often I find what I’m looking for in Ryan Adams. His latest record did not disappoint., It exceeded my expectations, stepping up its aggression from the pretty yet maudlin folk of Ashes and Fire, tapping into a classic-rock cadence and delivering the straightest, surest messages from a crooked, complicated heart. The first time I heard “I Just Might,” I must’ve played it a dozen times in a row, on a sullen, pivotal Wednesday night spent pacing and gnawing at my fingertips. Songs about this kind of desperation – the mad kind – are hard to do in this blues-rock style without coming off as kitcshy, but his always-sharp playing and subtle melody changes add sophistication to chords and structure that, in less masterful hands, could feel far less effective and elegant. I love love love this song. 

See how slowly it builds? See how effortlessly it repeats, but not quite? Hear how far a little tambourine can go? The final bars and the outro are  perfectly contrasted, a dash of uplift followed by the now-familiar shadow of a melody. His lyrics and imagery, as they are on the rest of this fulfilling self-titled, are direct, dramatic and precise – “shaking in the wind like a lame excuse,” “ghosts dwell in the streets from a hit and run.”  The pace toys with the idea of increasing without really committing, never hitting that point of no return into an all-out break, but it feels like it just might, proving how sound can better encapsulate a feeling than most, or any, combination words may ever hope to. Though I like these words, though they mean something to me, the composition here tells the story. This is what it sounds like to feel tangled and naked and obvious, lost and dark but so, so aware of the ever-approaching brink. What a precarious place. 
This is, I think, one of my favorite albums of the year, for so many songs and moments. I could see where it sounds too familiar to feel fresh, but these songs are ripped from the pages in so many ways, and crafted with such expertise that I am hard pressed to find a better recent example of what it means to write good, pure songs, straight from the heart and the lips and the strings, than these. The last four tracks, in particular, are my favorites. I will listen to them much more before this year is through, and this everlasting Ryan Adam’s admiration/inspiration grows.

“Hell is rising in front of my face
I’m free from desires, I rise above the maze
Every step I take, closer to the sun
Darkness is so loud, surrounding everyone
Ghosts dwell in the streets from a hit and run
Keep your head down
Keep your eyes shut tight
Don’t wanna lose control
Baby I just might

Don’t wanna lose control
I just might
Don’t wanna lose control
I just might
I just might

You make a wish, you want it to come true
But somewhere underneath all the hope is the truth
Prayers go unanswered
You’re waiting for the proof
Don’t know what to say
Don’t what to do

Maybe every promise anybody makes is destined for the rocks
The longer it takes
Daylight is so close I can almost taste it
Don’t know what to say, don’t know what I said
Everything is broken in my head
Lost out in the darkness, looking for the light
Think I’m gonna run
Baby I just might

I might,
I might,
I might,
I might…”

~I Just Might
Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams