You know that record you always seem to pull out, obsess over and then forget about for a long time, only for history to repeat itself" Enter Ryan Adams, altdotcountrydotsomething innovator and Smiths fan with his second solo album Gold
. Typified by an awkward, often confrontational demeanour, remarkable prolificacy and an aversion to the name Bryan, he’s an engaging character.
September 11th, 2001 was probably a good or bad time for Ryan Adams to release the first single from Gold
, New York, New York
. Due to a rather poignant video shot, rather predictably, in France (or New York, whatever) his ode to the big city was elevated to legendary post-9/11 song of hope status with that P.O.D. song and that Springsteen one nobody remembers and I’d be surprised if many people really remember New York, New York
. But I don’t care about anyone else; I care about me and, for a generous 74 minutes, I care about Ryan Adams. He completes
So Ryan Adams. Not to be confused with Bryan. You’d expect Bryan Adams to come out with an album cover featuring an upside down U.S. flag, a treasonous statement if I ever did see it, because he’s Canadian and they’re with the terrorists like the damn Egyptians. But this isn’t Bryan Adams; it’s Ryan Adams and he’s American and he used to be country and now he only kind of is and oh my god is he disrespecting the flag I think he is. Is he a liberal" Who cares" After 9/11 we all thought he was Reagan reincarnated and we couldn’t have been happier.
Then we heard his music. Well I heard his music. I heard his music and I’ve gone back and I’ve gone back again since. Rock N’ Roll
was terrible and Love Is Hell
was never on my radar long enough for me to appreciate it, but Whiskeytown were good, right" Bonus points for spelling “whiskey” the right way and adding “town” to tend. This guy wishes he was Irish. Maybe he is, he made a mockery of the flag.
And then we heard his music! Oh his music! New York, New York
are great rock tunes, pure and simple. Great rock songs, they’re Dylan but they’re so not Dylan, they’re Ryan Adams and we love him for it. Rescue Blues
is one of the grooviest blues you’ll ever hear from a witeboi, aided by the excellent lead guitar of Ethan Jones. Ethan Jones could be black but let’s face it, his name is Ethan.
Of course, it’s not all great. There’s filler, including the mildly danceable Rosalie Come Go
and the mildly danceable Tina Toledo
[songs about loose women tend to be at least mildly moveable toable]. Enemy Fire
is Jack White sings Jack White but worse than Jack White, while Nobody Girl
is a decent Stones-y pastiche which at 9 minutes clocks in about 8 minutes too long. There’s a fantastic gospel choir who sing below their level on tracks like Touch, Feel & Lose
and there’s a few more rock songs of varying quality.
But rock songs aren’t what Gold
will be remembered for; at least not by me. Gold
contains the three greatest Elton John hillbilly ballads I’ve ever heard. Believe it or not; I fu
ck with you not. My vocabulary could never be expansive enough for I to put into words the raw emotion evoked in me by Sylvia Plath
, La Cienega Just Smiled
and Goodnight, Hollywood Blv’d
. Three songs grab my soul and kiss my passions and tickle my passions behind the ear and tell my passions they love my passions but do they really mean it" Maybe Ryan is lying to me. Maybe he doesn’t feel the way I feel. Maybe his off-key country warble disguises a soul of evil and demented falsehood. Maybe I who knows not how to connect with music has been tricked. Maybe I who looks on with envy as more sensitive souls write with ease while I a robot sit on my bed and leak oil from my standard issue 100% Sheffield Steel guaranteed not to rust for 5 years unless you leave them in the rain for a month eyes. Maybe he doesn’t feel the way I feel and maybe it’s all a joke.
Or maybe I could ruin anything if I think too hard about it.