|Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger|
Ryan Adams is ridiculous.
After making a name for himself in the band Whiskeytown, he went solo and managed to release a slew of fantastic albums that have spanned the range from acoustic folk-country (Heartbreaker) to straight Rock N Roll (Rock N Roll). In 2005, he released three very diverse albums, one of which was even a double disc album. After this huge undertaking, Ryan returns to the scene with one of his most cohesive yet diverse albums to date. Easy Tiger, Ryan's seventh solo album (The Cardinals play on the record, why they were excluded on the CD version of the album is beyond me, as the vinyl is listed and printed as Ryan Adams and The Cardinals) is almost a stripped down Jacksonville City Nights, recalling that country, down home feeling without the lush musical landscapes that Ryan and friends were painting on both Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights.
The album starts off with the ballad "Goodnight Rose", a fantastic opener that really familiarizes the listener with the state of Adams and gang. The production on this record is stripped down, so much so that at times it feels like you are right there in the studio with The Cardinals. It was a good choice for the band, as while the band used many layers and sounds on his trifectra of albums in 2005, this new, more natural sound seems to capture Ryan's voice better than the layering did. After "Goodnight Rose" we get "Two" and "Everybody Knows", two fantastic tunes that are just solid and really really well written. After that, Ryan takes us back in time to his Rock N Roll days with "Halloween Head", probably one of his most hook laden songs since "Gold". The album continues along with "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." and "Tears of Gold", bringing to mind Neil Young's Buffallo Springfeild days, where you can tell that songwriting is in the front seat on this record.
The record does have a low point with "The Sun Also Sets" a character driven piece that highlights Ryan's quavery voice. Its not a bad song, but it's certainly the weakest song on the record. The rest of the record, "Pearls on a String", "Rip-Off" and "I Taught Myself How To Grow Old" are even more rock solid tunes, with amazing lyrics and "a little bit goes a long way" style instrumentation.
Overall, this record defies expectations once again by sticking with Ryan's roots while developing a more natural and cohesive sound. With a box set highlighting all his B-Sides (there are over 200) coming out soon, missing Easy Tiger and falling behind on the Adams catalog could be the biggest mistake you make all summer.
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