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Ryan Adams' 'Demolition'

Ryan Adams in NPR's Studio 2A.
David Banks, NPR /
Ryan Adams in NPR's Studio 2A.

Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams burst on the scene last year with the success of his second solo album, Gold. The 27-year-old North Carolina native is one of the most prolific songwriters in the "alternative country" scene — a music genre that mixes traditional country twang with distorted guitar fuzz and raw, emotional lyrics.

Adams got his start with the seminal "alt country" group Whiskeytown. That group, along with Chicago-based Uncle Tupelo (which later spawned groups Wilco and Son Volt) and the Jayhawks, took up where alt country pioneer Gram Parsons left off before he died of an overdose in 1973.

Adams recently sat down with All Things Considered guest host John Ydstie to talk about his latest CD, Demolition. In the years since leaving Whiskeytown for a solo career, Adams tells Ydstie he has been writing songs influenced by some of the great rock musicians of the past 40 years.

When he writes a new song, Adams says, he will often go into a studio with a band — or sometimes, just a sideman — and record a demo. He found himself with more than four CDs' worth of material, and decided to release 13 of these songs on the Demolition CD.

In an earlier interview, Adams described his writing process. "I do have two new rules — one is not to analyze what I write. The second is not to read my own press. I just want to make it and not fuss about it. No excuses for it. Just make it and there it is. That way, the process is more pure. And even if people hate it, well, it doesn't matter. Because I'm just doing it to do it."

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John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.