9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Sandwiched between the generally good "Easy Tiger" and the generally poor "Cardinology" Ryan Adams recorded the "Follow the Lights EP" in 2007 which is mix of retakes on some older songs, cover versions and material which had been written by Adams but recorded by other artists. Strangely I prefer this EP to either of the two albums highlighted above not least of all since it contains three stone cold classic Adams songs. These are the stunning "Blue Hotel" which was first recorded for the Adams produced Willie Nelson album "Songbird". It is the sort of country ballad that Adams seem to churn out with consummate ease and yet be utterly original at the same time. Its a tragedy that the late great Roy Orbison was not not alive to undertake versions of this and "Sweet Illusions" off Cold Roses since they could have been written for him. Next up is "If i am a stranger" which first appeared on Cold Roses as an up tempo electric alt country ballad. The version on "Follow the Lights" is much better where Adams gives it the Heartbreaker treatment accompanied by a beautiful yearning slide guitar played by Jon Grabhoff. To Adams merit (and like Bob Dylan) he consistently reinterprets his own songs in concerts although the next song up is more of a re-recording. A version of "Dear John" had originally appeared on Jacksonville City Nights as a duet with Norah Jones about the trials of a family and the death of a husband. Its great on that album but on this EP it is stunning. The dynamics between Adams and Neal Casal of the Cardinals works better and they literally sing their hearts out on the chorus
"Cause you're always mine to keep when you're gone
Two silvers rings, one's on my finger and the other one's gone
Went underground with you, oh John"
Other songs on the EP don't quite match these highlights but they are all generally excellent. "Down in the hole" is a reinterpretation of an Alice in Chains classic although they had also done an unplugged version of it and Adams versions is not radically different from that of the late Layne Staley. "My Love For You Is Real" and the title track are mellow ballads that are mainstream-sounding and the former now tends to appear on "Valentine" compilations although it is not overly mushy. Finally "This is it" reprises a song from the truly awful Rock n Roll album which is by a country mile the worse album Adams has recorded. Again the version on here is stripped back and is genuinely lovely, whether the rest of Rock n Roll should be rescued is alternatively highly debatable recorded as it was when Adams was heavily into misusing a range of exotic substances.
This time last year Ryan Adams announced that he was quitting the Cardinals or at least standing them down. He cited hearing loss due to Ménière's disease as well as disillusionment with the music industry as his key reasons. Adams is an incorrigible recorder of music and uses various pseudonymous such as D J Reggie or Werewolph to put out musical experimentation often of dubious quality. BBC music tell us that he has announced a new metal-influenced album, entitled Orion, due to be released on his own label, PAX AM, in 2010. Not an enticing prospect is my response. He has also recently mused again on releasing his many 'unreleased' albums such as the staggering Suicide Handbook and 48 Hours which were recorded around the era of "Gold". Over the past 15 years he has recorded some of the greatest albums of our times firstly with Whiskeytown and then in that incredible purple patch between 2002-2004. The vast majority of his work is worth checking out, however only time will tell if like other hugely prolific artists (Prince is the most obvious) there may be more classics to follow or alternatively whether the best has already gone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2012
Wow what an E.P. This guy is a massively underratted here in the uk.
If you want a new artist to love then give Ryan a go, I have all his albums most are awesome,
the odd one not so.(doesn't most artists??)but this E.P. is beautiful from start to finish.