TRACK x TRACK: Return to Carnegie Hall by Ryan Adams

I somehow missed that Ryan Adams released a 4 song EP live from Carnegie Hall. Appropriately titled Return to Carnegie Hall, the 4 songs were recorded from his May 14, 2022 appearance at the venue.

The EP features a lovely piano version of “Two” from his Easy Tiger album. I always found the original guitar driven version emotional but there’s something gut wrenching with the way Ryan sings and plays “Two” on piano. There’s a deeper and visceral honesty to the song and Ryan’s vocals. More ache and heartache. More hurt and more healing. Listening to it, I found myself thinking that if Ryan played all his music on piano the whole world would cry rivers up rivers of tears.

“When the Stars Go Blue” will always have a spot in my heart. From his album Gold, this song is one of my favourite songs by Ryan and every version he’s ever done of the song is beautiful and this live version is no exception. Ryan’s vocals have matured since the song was first recorded and this version showcases that. There’s more heart and grit to Ryan’s vocals especially now that he’s sober. He’s always been a talented vocalist, but as Ryan became sober, his vocals just kept getting better and better. It shows here.

From his album, Chris, his song “Chris” for his brother was already a heartbreaking song, but Ryan states in the intro of the song that the last time he saw his brother was at Carnegie Hall and that makes the song even more heartbreaking. The stripped down version of him, his guitar, and a memory is strikingly wonderful and a beautiful ode to someone who obviously meant the world to him.

“Romeo & Juliet” from the album of the same name, is very similar to the recorded version. It’s just Ryan, his guitar, and the story of lovers and the live version still showcases that harrowing story of doomed love and doomed lovers.

Like most live recordings that Ryan has released, Return to Carnegie Hall once again captures the vulnerability of Ryan and also allows the listener to hear his self-deprecation, humour, and talent in a raw honesty that is humbling and beautiful.