Sunday, June 17, 2007

Easy Tiger

Over the years Ryan Adams has written songs that wrap themselves around my life in a way that allows meaning to flow both ways. I remember listening to “Drank Like A River” and “Tennessee Square” when I was living in Nashville, letting those songs carry me down the highways that I would drive aimlessly to get away from Vanderbilt. I remember “La Cienga Just Smiled” and “Sylvia Plath” accompanying me as I walked through through rainy streets of London, wishing I had a girl to love. I remember “Magnolia Mountain” and “Cherry Lane” soundtracking a summer of getting re-centered and recovering my sense of wonder. The songs gave those times in my life more nuanced meaning, and listening to them now sometimes takes my breath away. There is a whole world of meaning now packed into those three or four minutes.
The best music does this. It brings you clarity and understanding when you need those things, and then it stores those experiences better than any photo album or scrapbook. So it’s hard for me to listen to any new Ryan Adams album with objective ears. I will always have my idea of what it should sound like. Sometimes it sounds that way, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes he surprises me, sometimes he disappoints me. But I always have an opinion right off the bat.
Easy Tiger is, first off, a really good album, in my opinion his best since Cold Roses. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge, and for that reason it reminds me at points of Demolition. But Easy Tiger succeeds where Demolition failed because its variety doesn’t get in the way of its cohesiveness. It’s less like a bunch of leftovers thrown together and more like a tour of where Adams is right now as a songwriter.
There’s not much new on Easy Tiger. Every song sounds like it would be right at home on another of his albums. It’s most closely akin to Cold Roses, starting off with three tracks that embody the breezy, jammy feel of that album. “Tears of Gold” is straight outta Jacksonville City Nights, “Off Broadway” is a welcome return to the melancholy of Love is Hell, and “Pearls on a String” even evokes a Whiskeytown vibe. The album’s masterpiece, though, is “I Taught Myself How To Grow Old,” a sparse and yearning tune that stands with his best work. I think it’s the best song he’s written since “Meadowlake Street.”
I think that Ryan Adams has finally found a balance on Easy Tiger. He’s made an album that is compelling without bogging it down by trying to write outside his strengths, like he did on parts of Gold and Rock N Roll. His maturity seems to have caught up with his talent.


Anonymous Brad said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this album. You didn't even mention "Sun Also Sets," and that's my SHIT.

Next I have to shame you into writing about New Pornographers or Iron & Wine or something.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Beaze said...

Here, here! Hooray for new Ryan Adams. Such a big day I bought the actual CD. It was like stepping back in time. Two and Pearls on a String are top for me.

7:49 PM  

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