"I wanted to find this combo of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' and 'Meat Is Murder'—the sonic geography of those records"

By Kevin O'Donnell
Updated September 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: C Flanigan/WireImage

Ryan Adams has spent the last few weeks putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. And with his love letter to the pop star now available for fans to hear, the prolific 40-year-old songwriter is looking forward to his next project: his own album.

Adams tells EW he’s recorded around 23 new songs for the follow-up to 2014’s Ryan Adams, which he hopes to release next year. And the sonic vibe is something of a throwback to his beloved LPs Heartbreaker, released in 2000, and 2004’s Love Is Hell. He also says he was inspired by classic albums by the Smiths and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

“It’s really wildly open and really wildly attached to the Love Is Hell sound but more of the focus on Heartbreaker, lyrically,” he says. “But there is this clean, unadorned element that felt like the last record I made, but taking it and pushing it further, more simpler, and more into that realm.”

As for the Springsteen and Smiths influences, Adams says, “I wanted to find this combo of Darkness on the Edge of Town and Meat Is Murder—the sonic geography of those records but with me in them and my ’80s crush, the blown synth, the weird inappropriate synths you’d hear on a [Bruce] Hornsby record. It totally spoke to me.”

Adams, who has moved to Los Angeles, recorded the material at New York City’s Electric Lady studios—”One block from my old apartment where I lived,” he says—with the help of one of his go-to drummers Johnny T Yerington. “It was just him and I in this big room at Electric Lady. It was really refreshing because when we write it’s really open, we can go anywhere.”

Earlier this year, Adams and his wife Mandy Moore announced their split after nearly six years of marriage. And while themes of heartbreak will be a large part of Adams’ storytelling this time around, don’t expect him to name any names.

“It’s about me,” he says. “It’s not about any situation or any person. It totally is just a guy, in this crazy time in my life, where I’m not some teenager, not some twenty-something, running around being crazy. It’s really looking around my world and how changed stuff is. I feel like I was able to stop time for a second and take that one still from a Super 8 view of my life…That felt strangely more powerful and sadder than anything I could write.”

While Adams has prepared enough material for a double album, similar to Ryan Adams and the Cardinals’ 2005 opus Cold Roses, he says he likely won’t do another two-disc set this time. “I can’t make a double record—it just doesn’t work in this time,” he says. “[Fans] are inundated with too much information. It’s not to take away from the record buyer, but why can’t it be like a Season 1 or Season 2? Kind of like True Detective but in the second season, it’s the same guys.”

Still, after finishing up as ambitious of a project as 1989, has any of Swift’s songwriting rubbed off on Adams? “What’s weird is it’s virtually the same sound we got on 1989,” he says. “But [the next album] is just me doing it.”