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Reviewed by Rick Cipes
Tempestuous and tortured, sad and lonely, confused and longing for understanding in a world where romantic love often equals pain and loss, singer-songwriter, Ryan Adams seems desperate to find unity in the tangled web of chaos called Eros. All of this is good news for music fans: Ryan's second solo album, Gold, is a solid hybrid of alternative country, classic and roots rock. It's a compelling album that announces the arrival of a major force in rock 'n' roll.
Serendipitously, Gold comes along at the
right time. Released only two weeks after the tragic events of September
11, the album cover features an American flag draped behind a photograph
of the singer. In addition, the first song on the album is aptly titled
"New York, New York," a pithy, affectionate, double-edged love letter in
which Adams bids farewell to the city and the love of his life before a
move to Hollywood to record Gold. (Gold is so
named because it describes Los Angeles at dusk.)
As for the eclectic melodies themselves, "Nobody Girl" is a richly textured ballad sung directly from a wounded ego attempting to strike back at the heart that no longer feeds it; while on the flip side, "Gonna Make You Love Me," sounds like vintage Neil Young, a confident parable about how Adams will make that same "nobody girl" love him all over again. "When the Stars Go Blue" is a poetically beautiful reminiscence about the need for a helping hand and "Harder Now That It's Over," another track with a Youngian feel, holds the lyrics which are perhaps the key to Adams' creative "voice":
It's harder now that it's over /
It's that history that lingers on and informs the prolific Adams' music (four albums and several EPs lined up for the near future) and makes him the vulnerable virtuoso that he is, a crooner embroiled in a maelstrom of the lovesick blues. It's trying to solve the riddle of these blues which fuels Adams' tapestries of disillusionment. If he keeps at it, who knows, one day his work may just go Gold. | December 2001
Adams plays a style of music which is not easily categorized, although he belongs in the company of other well respected alt bands of the moment like the Jayhawks, Wilco and the Old 97's. Bands which have a loyal cult following, but because of the current nature of the music business, have had a hard time busting out with a major radio hit to propel them into the mainstream.