Ryan Adams is nothing if not prolific. Nine studio albums in seven years is no mean feat.
Unfortunately, an almost natural by-product of this has tended to be a fair bit of filler being injected into at least four of the nine, turning what would otherwise be great into something that is 'just' very good. Thankfully, only one such track here - "Pearls On A String" - slips into this category.
The album title reflects Adams' slow-down and perhaps signifies a cleaner, sober artist whose creativity and talent can be fully realised. Similarly, "I Taught Myself How To Grow Old" reflects the more mature, stable feel to this collection. Both are positive steps towards the 'perfect' Ryan Adams album fans have been hankering after. Previous releases have flitted between genres ranging from straight country to alt-country right through to straight rock 'n' roll. Here, styles seem to converge and we have a collection that is eclectic yet at the same time solid and mature.
A number of standout tracks ("Tears Of Gold", "Two", "The Sun Also Sets" and "I Taught Myself How To Grow Old") are achingly beautiful and feel well-balanced alongside bouncy indie anthems such as "Halloween Head". His voice is versatile enough to allow him to sound at home with both tear-jerking ballads and livelier tracks and sounds the best it has on any Adams release to date.
He is edging ever-closer to releasing something truly exceptional and this is as close as he has come to delivering on that promise made following his 2000 debut, Heartbreaker.
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