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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cardinology is a classic-rock record to the bone, nodding to influences that Adams has conjured before but never so well.
  5. With its poignant beauty and powerful songwriting, Adams' latest is, well, the latest in a string of ever-better sad-bastard records.
  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. 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.
  8. Mojo
    Like the rest of this moving album, it whispers in the dark instead of hitting you in the face. [Dec 2008, p.110]
  9. A thin line between revelation and revivalism, Adams and the Cardinals make an album worthy of high praises.
  10. 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.
  11. Alternative Press
    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]
  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. 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.
  15. 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.
  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.

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