Ryan Adams
Heartbreaker


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
June 11th, 2005 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


After the collapse of his Alt Country band Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams went into hyperspeed. In a few short years he has released 5 records and written more songs than The Offspring have written in their entire career. Each record Adams has made has been different from the last. His first, "Heartbreaker" was a moody display of his Alt Country style.

Musicians of "Heartbreaker":

Ryan Adams - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Harmonica, Banjo
Ethan Jones - Bass, Drums, Hammond Organ, Vibraphone, Glockenspiel
Allison Harris - Vocals
David Rawlings - Guitar, Banjo, Tambourine, Vocals
Kim Richey - Vocals
Pat Sanstone - Piano, Vocals (backing), Chamberlain
Gillian Welch - Guitar, Banjo, Bass, Vocals
Emmylou Harris - Vocals

More than anything, Adams' first album is, instead of a country album, a soft, honest and emotional record. Where the album lacks in raw grit, it shows a huge emotional maturity for Adams as both a songwriter, singer and a musician. While "Heartbreaker" is a record full of incredible songs and performances, it is not without it's faults. Possibly the biggest fault of "Heartbreaker" is it's production. This problem also presents a contradiction. On one hand, the production is incredible in the way that Adams' voice shows a great emotional depth. For this, the production is perfect. The biggest problem, however, is the mixing of the vocals which are at least two times higher in the mix than anything else. The volume causes the listener to turn up the music loud to be able to hear everything, but Adams' voice can get unforgivably grating, especially in songs like "My Winding Wheel" and "Bartering Lines". With all of that said, Adams' vocal performances are amazing all throughout the record, almost without exception. His voice is really his strongest point. In his instrumental work, Adams is rather incredible, particularly in the areas of acoustic guitar, banjo and harmonica.

Lyrically, Adams makes some incredibly statements and shows maturity that was previously unseen from him. Songs like "Come Pick Me Up" and "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)" show the scope of his songwriting. which would only improve as his career developed. While his emotional arragements and lyrics are on a par with someone like Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley or Nick Drake, Adams shows a sort of bad boy attitude, which has close ties with punk rock. This has obviously not done anything to hurt his career. While he displays this attitude, with songs like "Come Pick Me Up". it's clear that there is a sensitive person inside the hard punk rock exterior. Adams' debut is a mature, heartfelt, honest and beautiful Alt Country album. Adams has taken influence from such people as Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard and has definitely come out on top as a result. Hopefully this album will one day be recognised as one of the masterpieces of Alt Country. With such a beautiful display of emotion, "Heartbreaker" is the album of Adams' career, or at least one of them.

Pros

- Incredible beauty in Adams' songwriting
- Musically and vocally unbeatable
- The production

Cons

- The production
- Some songs feel like they could have been made into more
- Instruments need to be mixed higher in the soft songs

Reccomended Tracks

To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
Call Me On Your Way Back Home
Come Pick Me Up

FINAL RATING: 4/5



Recent reviews by this author
White Suns Waking in the ReservoirPurplene Purplene
Quiet Steps Think AloudGrinderman Grinderman 2
Jakob DominionNorma Jean Meridional
user ratings (172)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
nowhereman1991 (4.5)
Adams' solo debut deserves the high praise it has received over the years....


Comments:Add a Comment 
morrissey
Moderator
June 11th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Very nice review.

This was my final Ryan Adams record, but in many ways I think it's better that I picked it up last. It's much more grounded in "country" music than any of his other albums, and I don't know if I would have been attracted to it 2 or 3 years ago when I first got into Adams.



morrissey
Moderator
June 11th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Alright apparently my comment was too long. Here's the rest of it:

This is a beautiful record, and having listened to all his albums profusely, this is without a doubt my favourite. The only complaint is that (besides "To Be Young"), his higher energy songs aren't up to par with the quality of the other songs. Not that they are bad, they just aren't as great. I completely agree with your recommended tracks, and add "Oh My Sweet Carolina" to that list.

Personally this is a 4.8/5 or something equally absurd, but I'll give it a 4/5 and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of this genre, Whiskeytown, and especially Adams' later career - this bests it.

And great review as always.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 11th 2005


2125 Comments


Personally I prefer 'Love Is Hell', but this is a marginal second. Come Pick Me Up is one of my favourite songs ever...the part where he says 'steal my records' always gets me.

Thanks for the comment.

Myxomatosis129
September 12th 2005


13 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review. My second Adams album. First was Love is Hell which i also prefer. Anyway keep it up.

morrissey
Moderator
December 16th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"Come Pick Me Up" is ten kinds of awesome.

This remains my favourite Ryan record. I'm glad he's returned to Heartbreaker-esque music this year, for the most part. Good stuff.

FA
March 6th 2006


127 Comments


I cannot get enough of Ryan Adams. His varying musical sound keeps me wanting more, whether it's his vocals over rock music, or over country with a little twan in his voice. This album is great, 'nuff said.

radianteclipse
March 23rd 2006


397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album was also my last Ryan Adams album to complete the collection, and is my favorite as well. This is the album that started it all, and I enjoy it a lot. There really isn't a bad song on here and the alt-country sound is pulled of perfectly here. Brilliant.

1drummer
November 6th 2008


326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album is really amazing, his new stuff is bad he needs some more drugs so he can write again.

citizeninsane
November 26th 2008


131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Oh my sweet carolina" is the highlight of this album.....whole thing is great but this song stands out for me amongst the rest.

ClearTheLane
November 26th 2008


990 Comments


I prefer the album Love Is Hell. It's a lot more depressing and and is similar to Jeff Buckley, I guess that's why.

guitarded_chuck
December 6th 2013


3273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fuck it --> 5

am i really like the only ryan adams fanboy around here

guitarded_chuck
December 6th 2013


3273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ok

ButteryBiscuitBass
December 6th 2013


10159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I might not be a fanboy, but I dig a lot of his shit.

tommygun
December 6th 2013


25094 Comments


good ass album

Digging: Banks - Goddess

guitarded_chuck
December 6th 2013


3273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ya i was exaggerating on the fanboy thing but i do think he's put out some fantastic material

a lot of mediocre stuff too though, if only because of the rate that he was releasing stuff for awhile

ButteryBiscuitBass
December 6th 2013


10159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You know tommy bro

ButteryBiscuitBass
December 6th 2013


10159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah dudes output is daft. Guy has serious issues.

tommygun
December 6th 2013


25094 Comments


i know

ButteryBiscuitBass
November 5th 2014


10159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Still one of the best albums ever

guitarded_chuck
November 6th 2014


3273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yep

wish there were more great alt folk/country songwriters like this

maybe there are and i just haven't heard of them



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy