After the slightest dip in form, some artists appear doomed to suffer their every release being described as a return to form. With each new album, amnesiac journalists will wonder: is this the one? Is this the return to form? It rarely is, of course. The return is exaggerated, as was the supposed decline.
Ryan Adams (not to be confused with Bryan Adams, his wikipedia page states with tongue not observably in cheek) has returned to form perhaps as many times as any bar, perhaps, Morrissey. Ashes & Fire (2011) is the latest of his resuscitations, released almost exactly a decade after Gold, the album that brought him his first mainstream success, mostly on the back of the video for New York, New York, which was filmed against a backdrop of the twin towers only a few days before the September 11 attacks.
Rocks saw Adams bereft of the rock, metal, and Cardinals of many of his previous albums, indulging instead his tender acoustic side - the alt-country beauty from his old Whiskeytown and early solo days.
It was, unmistakably, a return to form.