[Greyday Records; 2011]

“Shine Through the Dark,” which Ryan Adams claims to have recorded “post-meltdown, while lying in bed with the flu,” sets retrospective lyrics to a deconstructed acoustic guitar that evokes an aura of simple Americana. The track opens with a rhetorical inquiry, as Adams ponders: “Whatever happened to the old me / Whatever happened to us?”

Touting the track as his first “post-retirement,” the prolific singer-songwriter struggles to reconcile life’s competing currents of transience and perpetuity. While the song’s verse aches for permanence, “like a red wine stain or a scar,” its chorus grapples with a headlong cartwheel into the unknown: “These wheels turn fast / These wheels turn bright / Reflecting every blurry moon and every mongrel shining / Shining through he dark of the night.”

Earlier this month, Adams hinted via twitter that his new album Blackhole could be released around Christmas time on his label PAX AM. Legendary recording engineer Glyn Johns, whose work includes Who’s Next and Eagles’ first three albums, is slated to produce. Following 2010’s “sci-fi metal concept album” Orion, “Shine Through the Dark” promises that Blackhole could be a return to Adams’ alt-country roots.

8/10