Cardinology - Ryan Adams
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Ryan Adams and his backing band The Cardinals have got their sound down to a science, all right: Cardinology, as embodied by their fourth album in as many years, is a precisely calibrated method of creating cool, reflective pools of vocal harmonies and pedal steel, accented from time to time by fiery electric-guitar licks.
  2. 80
    Like the rest of this moving album, it whispers in the dark instead of hitting you in the face. [Dec 2008, p.110]
  3. These are modest pleasures but these days Ryan Adams is all about careful measured craft instead of big statements, a trade-off that makes his albums more predictable but also more satisfying as Cardinology quietly proves.
  4. Cardinology is a classic-rock record to the bone, nodding to influences that Adams has conjured before but never so well.
  5. Ryan Adams asserts a distinctly Americana ethos into dynamic, woven layers of rock on Cardinology, showcasing the diverse range of this prolific songwriter nd his backing band. [Jan 2008, p.129]
  6. After this blisteringly good start, Cardinology settles down into a languid country-rock groove - beautiful at times, intensely listenable and professional, but probably not breaking any new ground.
  7. A thin line between revelation and revivalism, Adams and the Cardinals make an album worthy of high praises.
  8. Musically, the band works up a handsome country rock sound with shades of the Rolling Stones and Wilco throughout, making room for swagger ('Fix It,' 'Magick') and sentimentality ('Natural Ghost,' 'Evergreen') in equal measure.
  9. If only a few of the tracks rise to the greatest heights of which Adams is capable--like the poignant closing salute to sobriety, 'Stop'--the rest remain impressive pictures of craftsmanship.
  10. With its poignant beauty and powerful songwriting, Adams' latest is, well, the latest in a string of ever-better sad-bastard records.
  11. Gently blurring the lines between the warm golden haze of pedal-steel’d country rock with elements of tasteful, classicist new wave, the quietly intimate Cardinology jettisons the schizoid, freewheeling genre-hopping of previous records, giving the album--and, most important, the songs--an intensity of focus where there was once just intensity.
  12. Even at his slightest--and Cardinology is pretty slight--Adams always turns out likeable ear candy.
  13. 70
    Cardinology lays even deeper into the language of rehabilitation, grace and renewal.
  14. 70
    Like "Tiger," Cardinology is long on midtempo country-rock shuffles that sound comfortable with their own familiarity; Adams isn't straining to reinvent the Great Art of American Songwriting, and that allows you to focus on what he and the cardinals are actually playing, as opposed to what they're thinking about playing.
  15. The new attention to cleanly produced and perfectly played and arranged backdrops function as both a blessing and a curse. The songs that do work, work that much better; the ones that could’ve been saved by charming details, top-shelf vocals, or Adams’ lyrics end up sounding too safe, too easy.
  16. If this album is a misstep, it’s a minor one with more than a few ?moments of redemption--the latest missive from a talented group of musicians likely to find their way back to the path before long.
  17. If that makes it sound like Adams and company aren’t pushing musical boundaries this time, it’s true, but they’ve settled into a groove that works just fine for now.
  18. 60
    Ultimately, Cardinology serves as another minor indictment of Adams’ famously lackadaisical internal editor. Neveretheless, it is still, almost infuriatingly, a stretch better than most people at their best.
  19. Much in between sounds like Adams on autopilot. Godd, but never great. [Dec 2008, p.122]
  20. Those songs ['Magick,' 'Sink Ships,' and 'Natural Ghost'] are out and out missteps, ones that keep Cardinology from being a great record, despite some very strong moments.
  21. The first half of the album as a whole is easy to forget....Cardinology takes a turn for the best around the midway point.
  22. So if you’ve always wanted to hear U2’s frontman lead a hook-filled classic country/rock band, Cardinology is for you. If, however, you’re waiting for Adams to deliver the classic album his prodigious talents seem capable of, you’re stuck waiting until his multiple personality disorder wears off and he remembers who he is. [Year End 2008]
  23. He has found ways to marry sentiment with strut before, and when it happens here, as it does in the steady march that propels 'Born Into a Light' and the guitar solo bridge on 'Like Yesterday,' the album has a powerful presence. These moments are rare, however, and too often Cardinology seems content to float along on an oily sea of good feelings and bad attitude.
  24. Following those pleasantly modest, Paste-worthy beginnings, however, Adams draws the blinds entirely and Cardinology starts sliding into self-indulgent banality of a sort so pinched and uninviting it makes Conor Oberst seem like Will Rogers.

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