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Blessed with the most confusing name in music today (try telling your friends you like him, without soliciting gales of laughter), young Ryan is currently a song writing fool. A year on from his classic Heartbreaker he gives us this 70 plus minute epic (also available in a limited edition with a CD of 5 extra tracks) and has, by all accounts, just completed its follow-up Pink Hearts. His live shows are witness to this prolific urge, as he dips into his ever-present notebook to play "one I wrote, just yesterday". In fact, recently a man attacked him on stage, enraged that he stopped the show to pen a new song! His life, it seems, is a constant source of inspiration.
Adams often attracts the odious tag of "Alt Country" for his Americana-soaked musings, but while songs such as "When The Stars Go Blue" contain a folksy integrity inherited from his old band Whiskeytown, the overall feel of this mighty work is that of plain old Rock. The plaintive lilt of "Wild Flowers" and "Answering Bell" hark back to previous work, but his muse seems to be undergoing a transformation on the raucous "Tina Toledo's Walkin' Blues". It's pure Sticky Fingers-era Stones with its slide guitar and Jagger swagger. Backed by band that includes Stephen Still's son Chris, much of this 16-song opus rocks with an intensity that reflects his relocation to the faster environs of LA.
The subject matter is still that of broken relationships but, whereas before the sense was of an unremitting resignation, now a lighter note leavens the confessionals. He's just enjoying life a little more, as he says on the hypercharged opener "New York New York" - "And love don't play any games with me anymore, like she did before. The world won't wait, so I better shake that thing right out there through the door." The lazy melancholy is still there, but mixed with an offbeat humour as on the touching "Sylvia Plath". The only problem is quality control - an editor is undoubtedly needed for this boy with the blues. Yet that doesn't stop Gold being one of the most uplifting of this year's releases. --Chris Jones
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