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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This album has an enhanced polished feel to it that his previous outing lacked, which is in part due to him being signed up by the artist-driven Lost Highway label. Also evident here is a much broader scope of emotion. Yes, there's the ever present laid-back lamenting prevalent throughout 'Heartbreaker', but this time that's accompanied by some resounding rock tunes ("Firecracker", "Gonna Make You Love Me"). And with Ethan Jones producing it's no wonder he's sounding better than ever. His star is certainly in the ascendancy!
There are echoes here of some of the greatest musical giants of the 20th century. The opening song, "New York, New York" is pure Dylan, and its poignancy is all too apparent following recent events. "The Rescue Blues" and the epic "Nobody Girl" have strong undertones of the Stones, while "Answering Bell" could well have been written by Van Morrison. His solemn, soulful singing encountered in "La Cienega Just Smiled" and "Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd" is moodily beautiful. What a voice! Believe me, there is absolutely no filler during this entire 70-minute journey from New York to LA.
This album will definitely generate a much bigger, broader following for him, and it can't come soon enough. When you discover Ryan Adams, you'll find it hard to let go. His passionate style is so irresistibly contagious. Buy it, play it, love it! You won't regret it.
Written almost entirely by Ryan Adams and producer Ethan Johns (more recently the man behind the Kings of Leon), for me this album is one of the greatest albums of the decade so far. The album is very accessible, probably more so than his previous, equally fine effort 'Heartbreaker'. Other highlights for me are 'The Rescue Blues' (a song that reminds me a little of the Rolling Stones) and 'Touch, Feel and Lose'. With seventeen songs and at around seventy minutes long, this album also represents real value for money.
This is a great starting point for anyone who is curious to listen to Ryan Adams' music as I have found his recent work to be a bit hit and miss, but this is probably to be expected from a man with such prolific output (he has released 7 albums & 2 Eps in 5 years including side projects). I don't normally enthuse too much or over-endorse products as I think it can be a bit misleading but this is an album that deserves to be heard by anybody who has a broad taste in music. One of the decades hidden gems.
Late last year, Adams returned with Heartbreaker, documenting in a 14 day studio stint how he fell in and out of love in Nashville. As I said at the time, "One not to listen to in the dark.". But, somehow with time, I find this one of the most uplifting collections of songs I have. His voice seemed more singular, more assured., like he finally understood and accepted just how good he is. Earlier this year, Whiskeytown's final album, Pneumonia, was released and was just as warm and melodic as its predecessor. So, with two albums already under his belt this year, surely a third was too much to ask?
But, in truth, a third is maybe not enough. Gold is a fabulous record. Country and rock do not hold Adam's muse no more... soul, blues, even the late night croon of early Tom Waits give full reign to Adam's wonderful voice. He has never used his higher register before but this tremulous instrument envelopes songs like 'Answerin' Bell' and 'Wild Flowers' in velvet. Evidently Adams has discovered Neil Young and Van Morrison. So those of you who wallowed in the melodic misery of Heartbreaker are well served.
But there are surprises. Opener 'New York, New York' is now impossibly poignant and kicks off with a classis Stone combo - acoustic guitar, Hammond organ and bongos. Driven by a relentless acoustic riff the song describes churches on the Upper East Side and the bitter Christmas cold of the now stricken city....
Indeed the Stones are recalled on the slow, languorous 'The Rescue Blues', complete with choir-led finale. The 10 minute long guitar wig-out, 'Nobody Girl', is followed by the stunning 'I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath'. Adams, alone with his piano and subdued strings, pines after the tragic poet who would "... take me to France, or maybe to Spain, she'd ask me to dance..."
'Harder Now That It's Over' describes a scene of domestic violence, where a young man explains to his distraught lover, ".... you're free with the history...." as the cops handcuff her. He wryly observes "...I heard your wrists got bruised, must have felt just like old times...". As the elegiac guitar fades, Adams murmurs "I'm sorry" over and over...
Sixteen songs, and not a clunker amongst them, really is an embarrassment of riches and will surely bring this gifted singer songwriter the audience he deserves. Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones, Bowie have all enjoyed such periods of intense productivity. Let's enjoy Ryan Adams, he now truly belongs to the gold league.
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