Ryan Adams "Love" in Limbo

Singer-songwriter's third Lost Highway album on the rocks

Ryan Adams says he's done with his new album, but Lost Highway records doesn't agree.

"Love Is Hell is finished," writes the singer-songwriter on his Web site, of the album once reportedly targeted for a March release. "We don't know what to do with it . . . or should I say 'they' don't know what to do with it. I've heard adjectives like 'incredibly too depressing' and -- this one's funny -- 'dark.' Also 'not your best stuff.'

Lost Highway sees it differently. "It was never supposed to come out in March," says Frank Callari, Senior Vice-President of A&R/Artist Development for the label, and Adams' manager. "Ryan wanted it to come out in March. He originally did some tracks in September, but then he started to rework some stuff. That isn't done yet. It's not on the release schedule. I'm not sure when it will be done."

Adams blames the label's adversity to Love Is Hell's sound, not the recording schedule, for its delay. "When I originally mixed the album myself in NYC, they said it was too experimental and rough sounding . . . same people who love the White Stripes album," Adams continues. "And now I think they just think it's too alternative rock or something. 'Too dark,' ha ha ha."

Despite an abundance of press, Adams' three solo albums -- Heartbreaker, Gold and the demo collection Demolition -- have combined for sales of just over 500,000, according to SoundScan, substantially less than the similarly hyped White Stripes (690,000 of White Blood Cells) and the Strokes (879,000 of Is This It) have sold for just one record.

Adams and Lost Highway do agree that a long-rumored box set is still in the works, with Callari predicting a release inside of a year. The set will include 48 Hours and The Suicide Handbook, his previously unreleased albums with his rock & roll side project the Pinkhearts, as well as sessions he recorded with producers Scott Litt and Michael Blair.

The box may even include another delayed record: Love Is Hell. Writes Adams, "It may fit better with this set."