Universal acclaim- based on 28 Ratings
Positive: 13 out of 13
Mixed: 0 out of 13
Negative: 0 out of 13
Sep 17, 2011Ryan Adam's Heartbreaker introduced the contemporary alternative-country music scene to the enigmatic, frustrating, and often-times wasted lead singer of Jacksonville, NC's Whiskeytown. After splitting with co-leader and songwriter, Caitlin Cary, Adams seemed too want to prove exactly how much he'd been held back by his band. Heartbreaker sounded like an album cut by a madman. Adams seemed to throw haymaker after haymaker with huge whiskey soaked anthems like "To Be Young", the gorgeous and dismal "Come Pick Me Up", and perhaps the most underrated song of the year, "Oh My Sweet Carolina". The latter was a sweet, longing ballad sung with the inimitable Emmy Lou Harris.
His follow up, 2001's "Gold" found Adams perhaps a little less riled than he'd been on Heartbreaker, but he retained an intense focus on rapidly producing fantastic pop music. The album opens with the timely "New York, New York" which springs forth with a strange ease for a native North Carolinian. In the dust of the World Trade Centers' collapse, the song became a solemn battle cry for those who saw the video on MTV and VH1. This proved important for him gaining the national spotlight. The next couple of songs seem to be open love letters to the Counting Crows. As if the rollicking country backing bands accented with banjos, reverb-laden telecasters, and Hammond B3 organ weren't obvious enough, Adam Duritz even makes an uncredited appearance with backup vocals on "Answering Bell". Critics may fault these songs for relying too heavily on their influences, but as strong an argument would be saying that rather than imitating Dylan, the Stones, or the Counting Crows, Adams was celebrating them in earnest, though not without flair. The fourth track is the hushed, melancholy "La Cienda Just Smiled". The same old tale of loving, then losing may have been sappy if the song had been produced differently. Instead, light, trebly, driving 32nd strums form the backbone of the track over which Adams sings simple, sorrowful, matter of fact lyrics as melodic acoustic guitar fills in the gaps. Further ambiance in the song is aroused by seamlessly mixed-in synth pads.
The next significant track is the stunning "When The Stars Go Blue". To whom from behind tears is Adams pleading "Where do you go when you're lonely, where do you go when you're blue"? When his voice arches into an aching falsetto during the chorus, the sheer beauty of the moment nearly covers the sadness (but it doesn't quite). Julianna Raye's restrained vocal harmonies perfectly accent Adams' vulnerable call. The song is, simply, very, very good. Adams has created a good number of excellent songs, but this song may quietly be his best.
Adams scores more points still with the rambling and **** "Gonna Make You Love Me More", immediately followed by the broken-voiced, "Harder Now That It's Over". The last gem of the album is the southern-gospel, R&B of "Touch, Feel, Loose". The song is significantly different from the rest of the album, but it's so good that you may catch yourself wondering why Adams doesn't just put out a whole album with similar work.
Perhaps the only significant fault of the album is that it goes on a little long. While there are no bad songs, there are songs that simply don't contribute much to the overall aesthetic of the album. There probably should have been 10-12 songs on the album - there are 16. It's the length of the album that makes it unravel (though not much) toward the end. Did he not know when to quit? It's probably more likely that in the most prolific period of his career, he simply couldn't stop.… Full Review »
Jul 14, 2013From the soft, lovely tone of "When The Stars Go Blue" to the sheer rock-out-loud attitude spilling out of the tune "Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues", this album presents itself as a showcase of some of the absolute best of what Ryan Adams has to offer from his ever-expanding musical collection. Even though I did not quite get the appeal of "Sylvia Plath", I am confident in saying that this album is a shining example of Mr. Adams' incredible capacity to write many songs that are above average; a quality that is much more rare than anyone really ever takes time to appreciate. That is why this is in my top five of studio albums ever produced.… Full Review »
Apr 25, 2012Probably Ryan Adam's most commercially successful record and for me it's his best. It's a long record at 16 tracks but there is so much quality to be found. From the classic opener "New York, New York" to the soft closer "Goodnight Hollywood Blvd", its a superb record lyrically and musically. Highly recommended and a great place to start if your looking to get into this artist.… Full Review »