KCRW Captures Acoustic Ryan Adams for 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'

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Photo courtesy Jeremiah Garcia for KCRW.

Acoustic shows, by their very nature, are generally quiet affairs. Every chord can hang; every strained note can fall softly to the floor. But when you're Ryan Adams and you open with "Oh My Sweet Carolina" in front of a hundred or so KCRW kids at a studio in Santa Monica, you might as well be belting out vibrato notes in space.

As part of KCRW's much-lauded "Morning Becomes Eclectic" show, Adams was invited to Apogee's Berkeley Street Studio for a rare all-acoustic set full of moving songs from his new album Ashes & Fire and more than a few classics.

LAist, along with a charitable amount of friendly faces both young and old, was invited to stand quietly and marvel at the smooth genius of a songwriter with only his instrument. There, in the corner of a well-purposed room draped in red velvet, was a man whose mood swings and melancholy played out like the gripping first read of your favorite author's new novel. All of the notes were there, the rhythm and wordplay the same. But, with a new solo album and a very old guitar, Ryan Adams gave us all a lot to look forward to.

Those guitars, flown in like Adams himself after a long stint in Europe, needed a little fine-tuning to go from angst-y to affecting. Thankfully, the relaxed atmosphere lent itself to wry smiles and dry wit from the man on stage, who used those middle moments to quip that without tuning, "Oh My Sweet Carolina" would "sound like Sonic Youth." Later, during a spirited discussion on the finer points of black metal and Oasis covers with KCRW's Jason Bentley, Adams recounted tales of taking his wife (the in-attendance Mandy Moore) to Nose Blood Records in Norway, complete with hanging bracelets made out of human bone. He joked that Bentley had "the most amazing voice ever," prompting laughter and plenty of cheers from the crowd. Then, back to the stillness of a room enraptured.

Adams closed out the night with a slew of ‘encore’ tracks, mostly because he just wanted to keep leafing through his songbook. Ultimately, a Cardinals-free “Like Yesterday” brought the crowd home before Adams slunk away into the night. Flashing the lower-lip smile and refusing to move the bangs from his face, Adams remained to the end a figure of so much personal connection, his new album already so eerily familiar.

Ryan Adams’ acoustic set will play on December 2nd as part of KCRW’s "Morning Becomes Eclectic".