Ryan Adams, The Cardinals - Cold Roses

Mike Mantin 21/05/2005

Rating: 4/5 fans should be thankful Ryan Adams is a workaholic, as all of the many, many albums and EPs he's churned out this millennium (bar 2003's awful 'Rock 'N' Roll', which was apparently a dig at his stupid record label anyway) have contained at least a few examples of a brilliant songwriter at work. This year he aims to be even more prolific: this double album is the first of three he's got ready for us.

Those who enjoyed the Americana stylings of his solo debut, 2000's 'Heartbreaker', will find much to love here. 'Dance All Night' even brings back the harmonica that breathed soul into each track, and fit snugly onto that very album (which happens to be my favourite of his). His new backing band The Cardinals know their stuff, providing a neat backdrop to Adams' tales, which remain of a high standard. Whilst there's no classic like 'Come Pick Me Up' or 'Rescue Blues', the likes of 'Easy Plateau' and 'Sweet Illusions' come damn close. And even though the likes of 'If I Am A Stranger' and 'Let It Ride' come perilously close to music suited to tacky Country-And-Western themed family restaurants, they're saved by the fact that Adams actually means what he's singing.

Ryan Adams would probably release a compilation of answerphone messages, so there's inevitably a smattering of filler on here. 'Meadowlake Street' and 'Blossom' could easily have been left out so the thing could cram onto one entire-listen-friendly disc, but these are only minor quibbles. This magnificent double-album may take a few listens, but see through the occasional country cheese and its brilliance will reveal itself. And the best thing is it's only a third of what's to come this year. As long as he doesn't stick his middle finger up to his record company again or walk off in a huff like he did at a show of his I saw, expect 2005 to be another fruitful year for this exceptional musician.