Ryan Adams - Prisoner
Critic Score
Based on 25 reviews
2017 Ratings: #169 / 716
User Score
Based on 132 ratings
2017 Ratings: #345
February 17, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
PaxAm / Label
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Your Review


Consequence of Sound

Adams assembles a stunning scrapbook that captures heartbreak in an intimate array of snapshots, a collection that marks his most accomplished record since Heartbreaker.

Entertainment Weekly

Prisoner doesn’t differ enough from its recent predecessors to stand out as a singular mid-career achievement for the ever-prolific songwriter, but it’s one of Adams’ most fully-realized, sturdy collections to date, and quite possibly his finest record of the past decade.

A.V. Club

He sounds like he’s savoring how full of life his music is, no matter what it took to make it so. He hasn’t just turned misery into art; he’s turned it into joy.

Drowned in Sound

It’s been a while, though, since he served up a real, sit-up-and-listen statement. Here it is. Prisoner isn’t a heartbreak record - it’s potentially the heartbreak record, for my generation at least. 

The Line of Best Fit

Prisoner is an album filled with Adams reconciling his doubts and fears about life and love with his faith in music and the power of song. And ultimately – thankfully – music wins out over heartbreak in the end.

Slant Magazine

Prisoner is an enveloping, painfully raw breakup album that may lack perspective but doesn't really need it in order to capture a compelling, intense portrait of one guy's troubled headspace.


Prisoner works well as a deep-winter heartbreak album, with acoustic guitars and ruminations on loss cutting through the cold air.


‘Prisoner’ isn’t quite up to the career-best standards of its predecessors, but it’s a remarkably focused and effective successor nonetheless.


Prisoner is an album that must have been tough for Adams to write and record, but ends up sounding like one of the great break-up albums of recent times.

The Guardian

Adams is not breaking new ground with Prisoner, but it seems churlish to quibble when he’s at the peak of his powers.


That's the charm of Prisoner: it's not a record that wallows in hurt, it's an album that functions as balm for bad times.

American Songwriter

Prisoner is kind of like what Blood On The Tracks would have been if every song took its cue from “If You See Her, Say Hello.” Still great, but a bit one-note.


Stylistically the first half of the LP is the strongest but -rather like the imploding love that Prisoner chronicles — the album tails off after a strong start. Lyrically though, and as a view into Adams’ psychopathology, ‘Prisoner’ is nothing short of fascinating.


While certainly uneven, there’s no doubt Ryan Adams can spin jaded heartbreak into gold, or at least polished silver.

The 405

Prisoner isn’t an easy listen and it’ll provide all kinds of feels but after listening to it you’ll be glad you let Ryan Adams’ tale of anguish into your life.


It’s a beautiful sounding collection, no question. Sometimes, though, Adams’ exacting, just-so approach to the sonics undercuts the power of his lyrics.

Loud and Quiet

Adams’ voice is still the central vacuum to his records and he still has an infectious pull with melodies (both vocal and guitar) that ooze out of him like a bleeding heart here. It makes ‘Prisoner’ his finest standard release since 2005’s ‘29’.


Prisoner hears Adams embracing both his emotional growth and musical maturity, channelling that life experience into a clean, sharp and directly affecting sound.

Rolling Stone

Sometimes he can almost be too faithful to his heroes ... But when the songwriting feels as personal and urgent as the scholarship, he gets close to the magnum opus of his dreams.

Northern Transmissions

Though the pain is palpable, the weight of Adams’ misery occasionally drags Prisoner down.


It’s another down-the-middle, crowd-pleasing Ryan Adams record at a time when that crowd was expecting him to bring the heat.

NOW Magazine

While there are certainly flashes of brilliance, Adams is understandably at times so overwhelmed by his suffering that he’s unable to step outside of it.

The Independent

Everything here is tailored to sustain a tone of desolate abjection, cauterised by the need to move on: it’s Adams’ own sad, solo trip into the Tunnel Of Love.

Pretty Much Amazing

Even if he’s not on solid emotional footing, Prisoner finds Adams making new music in a steady, workmanlike manner befitting his status as one of the younger guardians of traditional “rock” music.

Adams is able to make a collage of hurtful memories but rearranges them in a painfully average way. Unfortunately, nothing is very memorable about this album.
After the honest, incredibly emotional self-titled album, Ryan Adams returns with a breakup record, Prisoner. Here we have Ryan delivering a set of his usual country-tinged rock songs that reveal the twisting emotions of a breakup at a late relationship stage. Lyrically speaking, of course, we have a few standout points in the tracklisting, with Ryan completely turning his emotions into some kind of modern-life poetry (something like what he did on the self-titled album, per se), but with much ... read more
Heartbreak is obviously a tough thing to bear, but it certainly produces good music. This is his best album in years and it absolutely aches.

Favorite tracks: Prisoner, Shiver and Shake, Anything I Say To You Now
Continues to grow on me. Very good.
A heartbreaking, vulnerable, stunning album that will leave you in shock once it's done.

Best Tracks: Everything Except Outbound Train
Worst Track(s): Outbound Train
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Track List

  1. Do You Still Love Me?
  2. Prisoner
  3. Doomsday
  4. Haunted House
  5. Shiver and Shake
  6. To Be Without You
  7. Anything I Say to You Now
  8. Breakdown
  9. Outbound Train
  10. Broken Anyway
  11. Tightrope
  12. We Disappear
Contributions By
patton, thisisabtlgrnd, philthy
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Added on: December 6, 2016