Alt-country star Adams releases sensational Gold
By SEAN T. McLAUGHLIN
Scene Music Critic
Released within the barren landscape of TRL-manufactured pop celebrity, Ryan Adams' second solo album, Gold, stands as a much welcomed breath of credible fresh air.
Just 26-years-old, Adams embodies the term "prolific artist." Adams released three albums with alt-country icon, Whiskeytown, and last fall, he made his solo debut with Heartbreaker. In addition, Adams possesses over six albums worth of old material that still await the light of day. Nonetheless, Adams has little time to worry over his unreleased back catalogue. He has just finished recording an album with his side project, The Pink Hearts, that is due out in early 2002. He has also completed the follow-up to Gold, tentatively entitled 48 Hours. Oh yeah, he's also working a novel and a play.
In stark contrast to his first album's dark minimalism, Gold finds Adams reaching for rock 'n' roll glory. Filled with tales of love lost and roads less-traveled, Gold captures one of America's most effortlessly gifted songwriters paying homage to the musical past. In the process, he has presented an album of an unqualified vitality and relevance.
"New York, New York" recalls Blood On the Tracks era Dylan and given the recent events of September 11, stands as a touching tribute to the city that never sleeps.
"The Rescue Blues" and "Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues" could contend with anything the Stones released during the late '60s and early '70s. "Nobody Girl" and "Enemy Fire" rock-out with the reckless abandon of an electrified Neil Young. "Somehow, Someday," "Answering Bell," and "Wildflowers" compete with the best of Tom Petty and Van Morrison. Taking a nod from the Lennon and McCartney, "Sylvia Plath" provides a vivid soundtrack for anyone contemplating Beat inspired adventure.
In sum, Gold contains 16 songs and its initial pressing includes a terrific five song bonus EP of tracks that did not make the final cut. While some may find Gold's length cumbersome, the sheer number of great songs should outweigh any concerns. Moreover, in an era where most artists write on two year corporate marketing cycles, Adams' creative explosion should come as a relief to those who enjoy music, for music's sake.
On "Firecracker," Adams declares that "everybody wants to go forever, I just want to burn up hard and bright." Let's hope he doesn't. If Gold is any indication, Ryan Adams' best work is yet to come.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, October 30, 2001