Album Reviews: Cold Roses by Ryan AdamsProlific alt-country rocker Ryan Adams is working with a full band for his first of three releases this year. But unlike the follow-up efforts, Cold Roses is actually the product of a band. All of the songs are credited to multiple songwriters and you can quickly tell these aren’t the solo product of the oft-indulgent Mr. Adams. Where Rock N Roll found him proving (disproving?) that he could be a young hip indie rocker like The Strokes, Cold Roses showcases what he does best -- country rock in the vein of Gram Parsons and Neil Young, mixed with healthy doses of Roy Orbison and Fleetwood Mac. This album is a return to his old Whiskeytown ways. It’s loose and effortless country-rock, but still showcases tight pop songs.
With 18 songs already burning themselves into my subconscious, it’s hard to single out a few as the standouts. But I have to say that “Sweet Illusions” and “Beautiful Sorta” are vying for my favorite right now. The former is a beautifully anachronistic ballad that would’ve played well on the Glen Campbell Show. And the latter could be a lost Replacements gem circa 1985.
Surprisingly, I don’t think he needs an editor this time around. On some of his previous solo efforts, he was often about four tracks beyond a great album. But this time around I wouldn’t have cut any tracks. The album deftly balances the mopey brilliance of his Love is Hell period with his default rootsy-rock sound. Both nine-track discs flow very well; maybe it’s because it isn’t 18 straight tracks. There may not be as many standout pop songs as on his previous albums, but on a whole this may be his most consistent album since the Whiskeytown era. Maybe having a band is a good way to keep his overactive pen and guitar in check?
This album will be a slow burn, but in time this may be the Ryan Adams album that you recommend to your friends (you know...the ones that are actually fully-engaged music lovers). This album doesn’t have a "New York, New York," to bring it a lot of media attention, but it has 18 tracks you can really sink your country-music-craving teeth into. - Doug Kamin
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