Ryan Adams | Easy Tiger (Lost Highway)

cd_radamsRollicking soulful songs like "Good Night Rose" and "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old" have such a rich quality, it's nearly impossible to deny the singer's evolution.

 

 

 

 

When I popped this little gem onto my iPod, I had to check twice to make sure I was listening to Ryan Adams. This voice was mature, these compositions were incredibly tight; I was hooked.

To my delight, it was Ryan Adams! My favorite moody rocker back again with a deeper, more layered sound and a clearer voice. Easy Tiger is the best of Ryan Adams: blaring guitar, instant twang, achy lyrics about hopeful lusty love and love that is so fucked up you wonder how he ever got involved with it in the first place.

Lyrically, Adams has always been something of an open door. Songs like "Come Pick Me Up" read like an open book, landing on mixed tapes on every college campus. Now, Easy Tiger gives us generous lyrics with a voice that is at once grating and soothing, twang and rock.

This album, with the strong support from the Cardinals, conjures up sounds of the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and the Band. Rollicking soulful songs like "Good Night Rose" and "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old" have such a rich quality, it's nearly impossible to deny the singer's evolution.

Easy Tiger was written and recorded with the Cardinals—Brad Pemberton, Jon Graboff, Neal Casal, and Chris Feinstein—and features a superb supporting performance from Sheryl Crow. Adams' rarely credits the band, but the Cardinals are jointly responsible for the unyielding composition of Easy Tiger.

In "Two," Adams performs with Crow to deliver the honesty listeners want: "I got a really good heart, I just can't catch a break/ if I could I'd treat you like you wanted me to, I promise." Additional standout tracks include the lyrically rich, Jeff Buckley-esque "The Sun Also Sets," the rockish "Halloween Head," the nostalgic "These Girls," and the beautiful and eloquent tracks "Everybody Knows" and "Oh My God, Whatever, etc." You could pluck some of these songs and place them on Adams' past recordings. But why mess with a great thing?

Every piece of press I have read mentions Adams' sobriety. As a young musician, he was known for drunken antics and public display. But it's now clear that sobering up for Adams includes dropping his twentysomething angst to create an album to be proud of.

Easy Tiger surpasses the promise of 2000's Heartbreaker with its depth of performance. Not straying far from his alt-country roots, Easy Tiger is full of gorgeous insight and melodies, skillful guitar and a harmonica solo that will make you cry.

I can't say enough good things about this album. Easy Tiger hasn't left my side for over a week. I am going to make it my summer soundtrack. A | Raymee Holshouser

RIYL: Jeff Buckley, Son Volt, Josh Rouse, Whiskeytown

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