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3.9 out of 5 stars22
3.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 October 2008
I have been a fan of Ryan Adams since his Whiskeytown days. It is great to see him in such good form. The Cardinals are providing a fantastic vehicle for his song writing and performing. The live shows (many of them soundboard recordings) on the Archive.org give a sense of a fantastically talented band - all top musicians who actually sound better live than they do on record.

I have been listening to Cardinology pretty constantly for a few days now. It's an instantly likeable record, with sing along chorus and a pop sensibility much in the vein of Easy Tiger - but thankfully not quite so smoothly polished in the production. 12 songs (I haven't heard the addittional track on the UK release) in a little over 40 minutes also contribute to the short pop song feel of the record as a whole, but especially the opening 5 tracks. Fix It has been chosen as the first promotional track - and it is a pretty and radio friendly track - but ultimately not one of the strongest tracks here. Magick has an instant crowd pleasing hook - the duelling guitars mixing with the call and response - `what goes around comes around' refrain. Cobwebs is a great song, brooding, beguiling Cardinals at their best. But what `confusing my love for the cobwebs' actually means is anyone's guess. `Let us down easy' leaves the rock / pop territory of the early tracks for Willie Nelson country. Sink Ship departs from the verse chorus verse structure to create a song with a stupendous build towards a climax - the dense atmosphere, beguiling harmonies landing the first real emotional punch of this album. The complete stunner is left until the final track. `Stop' starts as a quiet piano and vocal (the rest of the album is very guitar orientated). The intensity builds as the song progresses bringing in a simply gorgeous string section. Probably the best rehab song I have ever heard and a note of optimism that Ryan is going from strength to strength with the Cardinals
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An exercise in treading water and perhaps a bit too much democracy at work here? It is certainly not the complete drivel of "Rock n Roll", by far Adams's worse album, but sadly it is no where near the greatness of anything in the Whiskeytown era nor for that matter previous Cardinals epics like "Cold Roses". Solid songs can be found in the first 3 songs especially "Go Easy". Excellent songs are the atmospheric rocker Cobwebs, the lovely "Crossed out Name" and the classic "Stop" which would sit happily on "29". Sadly there are a few stinkers including "Magick". God knows what happens when Adams goes for straightforward rock but he ends up sounding like The Knack! Truly awful are Natural Ghost (Adams coasting with horrible lyrics) and "Let me down easy" which repeats the songline to the point of tedium. Some of the other songs are ok but its all very safe and dare I say rather dull in parts? On the positive note it would be surprising if anyone could live the with the early standards that Adams set for himself with some of the greatest albums in rock history especially Heartbreaker and Gold. Like all great artists such as Neil Young or Bob Dylan he has to be viewed by the whole spectrum of his work which will inevitably see some dips in the quality control. There is little doubt that Adams will return one day with one of the great rock albums, Cardinology isn't it.
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on 3 May 2010
Absolutely brilliant album.
At the moment it's my favourite Ryan Adams album and I can't see that view changing for a long time.
Although vocally it doesn't sound like Van Morrison a lot of the song stuctures are so much in his style that it is easy imagining him singing them.
Every song is 'top drawer' material and oddly uplifting in a laid back sort of way.
Excellent production and very clear sound.
One of the many highlights for me is track 6 'Let Us Down Easy' it's just perfect.
The Cardinals are one of the great backing groups in the tradition of Crazy Horse / Neil Young or The Band / Bob Dylan. Note perfect bliss.
Don't let the cover put you off. Never has the sayin ' You can't judge a book by it's cover' been more true. A gem lies hidden behind it's out of place artwork.
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VINE VOICEon 29 October 2008
Cardinology follows much in the same vein as last year's Easy Tiger, though this time the Cardinals are credited as playing on the album. I think it's more cohesive than last year's effort, keeping mostly to one style rather than the mixed bag that was Easy Tiger. Once again these are concise songs, devoid of the extended jams that are the staple at a Cardinals gig. This means that the record is not necessarily an accurate reflection of what the songs will sound like live, but the band bring something that Adams lacked at times with his solo albums, namely focus. Most of these songs are a radio-friendly 3 minutes long, with the longest being album-closer 'Stop' at a little over 5 minutes.
The Cardinals complement Adams well, adding nicely to his alt. country sound with the multiple harmonies and the pedal steel. There are some songs where he seems to be straining a little, particularly the warbled ending to 'Cobwebs', but the vocal performance is good on the whole (I especially like 'Born Into A Light'). Occasionally the lyrics stumble around a little too, as is the case on 'Sinking Ships', however, they are mostly well-written and thought out. 'Fix It' is a pretty single that is inoffensive and likely to appeal to those who enjoyed Easy Tiger, while 'Magick' is the Cardinology equivalent of 'Halloweenhead', complete with ridiculous lyrics and a call and return chorus. On 'Evergreen' it is easy to see the Grateful Dead influence (particularly in the lines 'Maybe you'll find some roots to lay down') in the Reckoning-style acoustic arrangement, but it is a pretty ballad that sounds similar in parts to 'Wildflowers' from Gold. 'Stop' is a stand-out track, harking back to the 'old' Ryan with its sparse piano chords and subtle strings, and 'Memory Lane' is a beautiful, wistful piece of Americana complete with banjo and acoustic guitar.
Overall, the album is a step up from Easy Tiger. It is one that will get under your skin and grow in appeal with repeated listens, but while it is a good album it is Adams in his comfort zone. While it is more consistent than Cold Roses or Love is Hell, there are no truly brilliant tracks that come from him willing to take risks. For this reason I'm only giving it 4 stars; it's good, but there are better Ryan Adams albums.
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on 5 April 2010
I am very surprised by the one star reviews on here. This is never in a million years a one star album. It is a beautifully chilled and thoughtful album. I have all Ryan Adams albums and this is one of my favourites. This, like much of his work grows on you. Lots of people say Gold his best. But I found Gold to be a very immediate album with not as much depth and feeling as some of his others. As usual, the songs on this album are deep and emotive. And if you like Ryan Adams you will be delighted with it, but give it a chance if you don't love it immediately, I'm sure you will eventually.
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on 24 March 2009
Cardinology is a strange album. On first listen I was distictly unimpressed but then, like many of Ryan Adams best creations, the songs slowly start to lodge in your brain and before long your reaching for the repeat button!

Without doubt this is his most soulful record to date. Songs like Fix It and Like Yesterday have a distinct groove to them. Adams vocal delivery is also of note and used to great effectiveness on songs like Sink Ships, Crossed Out Name (which is not unlike a stripped down Killers!) and Let Us Down Easy (I love the line "every season we spend apart, feels like a thousand to my heart, and in my soul"). Cobwebs would have not been out of place on the excellent Love Is Hell and once again is made by a great vocal melody.

Despite some slight strays into new territory, Adams can still pen a great piano ballad and the haunting Stop builds to a crescendo of beautiful gushing strings. The only slightly out of place song (much like Halloweenhead on Easy Tiger) is Magick, a plodding college rock song, but even this proves catchy after a few listens.

Overall, not quite worthy of a full 5 stars but certainly a good 4 and a half and a real return to form after the somewhat patchy Easy Tiger. Cardinology has a few surprises up its sleeve and is all the more listenable for it.
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on 4 July 2012
Such is his release rate that the above says it all. I do like this record, but have only had the chance to really listen to it in the car so may be missing some of the "sonic landscape". Opening with the very strong track "Born into a light". "Fix it" delivers a plaintive Adams vocal and is a grower too. "Crossed out name" is another attractive piece of work. As we have come to expect the support of the Cardinals is very fine. Now time to chase down some of the other recent releases before he delivers another clutch.
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on 30 October 2008
The Cardinals blow everything else around at the moment out of the water. Cardinology is right up there with Ryan's best work (Cold Roses, Jcn and Love Is hell). Forget the stupid arguement that Ryan needs an editor, in my view all of his albums bar a minor blip with Rock 'n' Roll are genius.
Back to Cardinolgy, it gets better with every listen. My Favourite tracks change daily, at the moment they are Go Easy, Fix It, Let Us Down Easy, Natural Ghost and Evergreen. These 13 songs have the beauty and simplicity of the Grateful dead at their very best. Thanks again Cardinals.
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on 23 February 2009
This is Ryan Adam's most consistent effort for some time and it is clear that the esteeemed backing band the Cardinals are thouroughbreds in their musicianship. Ryan's lyrics and delivery still have the capacity to evocate, this being best illustrated here on 'Natural Ghost', 'Fix It' and the poignant and rather gorgeous 'Crossed Out Name'. But these songs seem to lack definition from each other; where is the diversity and wealth of musical ideas (and indeed classic songs) that is to be found on the landmark Gold? The only song here that really represents a distinguishable tempo change is the rather embarrasing cod rock circa 1982 that is ' Magick'. Nevertheless, this does represent the beginnings of a return to form following the truly uninspired Easy Tiger and confirms to doubting fans that in stumbling around in the dark he has relocated an ounce or two of his unquestioned songwriting talent. It is to be hoped that Ryan will now embrace the content of quality not quantity in his future releases because there is no doubt that his best songs have the capacity to touch a nerve with discerning music followers.

Young Danny, York
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on 4 April 2015
Good album, not one of his finest though. When Ryan goes into basic rock, there's other artists I prefer. In the folk/country/americana-area I do think he's unbeatable!
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