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The Ballad of Carol Lynn
Oh My Sweet Carolina

Headline New York Times:
Ryan Adams: The 'It' Kid of Alt.Country


Um... is the Times on top of a music story while it is happening for once? If you missed the article, check it out here.

But what does the New York Times know anyway? I recently read one of their articles—it was actually more pretentious rhetoric than an article—about Stephen Malkmus. Where were they when Pavement was blowing away college campuses all over the Northeast? I don't remember Pavement getting too much print then. Unfortunately, their music coverage generally seems to be on time delay.

Regardless, their article on Mr. Adams was very well done and informative for a change, so hats off to them.

And before I go on, I should state that the subject of this article is Ryan Adams, not the Brian Adams of an altogether different phenomenon. If this kid really wants to become a superstar, he should have listened to the advice his agent surely gave him and create an alias for himself.

PneumoniaRyan Adams has slowly been building a fan base over the last couple of years following the release of his first solo album Heartbreaker and more recently with the wonderful Pneumonia by Whiskeytown for whom he was the frontman.

First things first—Whiskeytown has been around since 1996 with rotating members and less than consistent work. Pneumonia was supposed to be released in 1999, but sat on the shelves until last month due to label problems. But boy was it worth the wait. Having had a busy month, I left the CD in my player on repeat, more out of distraction than anything else. After a couple days, I realized how infectious this record truly was. Most releases would have driven me nuts by the 2nd or 3rd spin. And what is strange is the fact that upon first listen, Pneumonia sounded a tad earnest and pop for my sensibilities with some songs heading into the direction of Melloncamp and Billy Joel (not a good thing in my mind). But in the end that is what is so enjoyable about Adams as a songwriter—his knack for simplicity and his sincerity.

And that's not to say that Mr. Adam's isn't afraid to experiment stylistically here and there. Take for instance the tape looping of "What The Devil Wanted," for instance, or the tropical flavor of "Paper Moon." When's the last time you heard tape-loops on a Steve Earle CD, or Uncle Tupelo for that matter. Oddly enough, it works wonderfully.

Disk highlights are the aforementioned diddies, the Dylan-flavored "The Ballad of Carol Lynn," and actually nearly every damn track on the disk.

HeartbreakerHeartbreaker, is another nice surprise, but Bloodshot Records should have named the CD, Do Not Listen to this Record with the Fan On. Adams shows the world with this outing that he never needed the now defunct Whiskeytown anyway, but unfortunately the music tracks are often so much more subdued than the vocals, I had to put my head to the speakers to hear what was going on. Regardless, the songwriting is solid on this nearly all acoustic disk. Emmylou Harris pays a visit on the beautiful "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and the opener "(Argument with David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey)" with its twangy guitar licks sounds like it could an outtake from Dylan's Blonde on Blonde.

Adams again breaks with convention on songs such as "Sweet Lil Gal" by adding a touch of dub-influenced guitar. Overall a really nice record that is considerably more country and less pop than anything he has done thus far.

Just don't listen to it during these summer months with your fan on—I swear you will not be able to hear the badly produced music at all—only the vocals.

So is he the it kid? I think that remains to be seen, but he certainly has an apt title for his upcoming record ambitiously named Gold. It is due out in September and will feature 16 new tracks and is supposedly his best work to date. Ten tracks that were cut will be released soon after as an EP. Reportedly, the amount of unreleased work Adams possesses could fill volumes and he even has a side-project with another band named Pink Hearts scheduled for November. In other words, he is prolific.

And talented enough for me to be excited about his future.




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