Blue Coupe 

 

Gold

Ryan Adams

Universal, 2001


Buy it online


Tracks
1: New York, New York
2: Firecracker
3: Answering Bell
4: La Cienega Just Smiled
5: The Rescue Blues
6: Somehow, Someday
7: When The Stars Go Blue
8: Nobody Girl
9: Sylvia Plath
10: Enemy Fire
11: Gonna Make You Love Me
12: Wild Flowers
13: Harder Now That It's Over
14: Touch, Feel and Lose
15: Tina Toldedo's Street Walkin Blues
16: Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd.
17: Rosalie Come and Go
18: The Fools We Are as Men
19: Sweet Black Magic
20: The Bar Is A Beautiful Place
21: Cannonball Days

 

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.)

In Gold, written as an open letter that was meant for one woman in Adams' past (possibly Winona Ryder), the songs evoke memories of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the Stones' and the Band, among others. Adams wrote all the songs on his acoustic guitar, making sure they worked honestly by themselves. When Bernie Taupin reports that Sir Elton John was influenced by Adams' simplicity in making the new John and Taupin collaboration, Songs From the West Coast, you can say that this brash, 26-year-old North Carolinian has begun to shake, rattle and roll the music biz.

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. (Yes, it is doubtful that Carson Daly will be playing any of their tunes on TRL.)

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 /

Now that the cuffs are off /

And you're free /

Free with a history/

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

 

Rick Cipes is a Los Angeles-based writer currently finishing up his first novel, The Horny Men's Club. He also writes for Stance Magazine, and his own Web site www.comedyave.com.

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.

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