Lightning Review: Ryan Adams – “III/IV”

You might have noticed I haven’t been writing much lately.  I’ve been kind of busy.  In fact, with our pending travel and kid on the way, I’ve just been doing a lot of stuff that doesn’t involve much of anything with a computer unless it is backing up files from the office or scanning birth certificates.  I’m in total “ducks in a row” mode.

However, last night I downloaded Ryan Adams’ III/IV from Amazon and have been pleasantly surprised by what I have heard so far.  I’m 3/4 of the way through and the set sounds like a more sober version of 2003’s Rock ‘n Roll.  (I know I’m in the minority but I loved that album.)  The country leanings are nowhere to be found and the jangly Dead influence hasn’t reared its head either.  These albums consist of a batch of 80’s-like rock songs that lie somewhere between U2 and the Replacements.

Themes deal with love lost and a pretty obvious battle with controlled substances in many of the tunes but the writing is coherent.  The album seems pretty void of clumsy lyrics that mar other Adams outings.   The playing by the Cardinals is perfect.  “Numbers” is an arrestingly diverse song that revs and sputters all within a few bars.  That’s going to be a fun one to hear again.

Adams has always been prolific.  III/IV songs come from sessions that spawned Easy Tiger and an EP – they put some 60 songs to tape.  The fact that these songs are even releasable is a feat in itself.  As an amateur musician working on my 3rd album, Adams really gets my respect.  There’s creativity, vitality, fun and irreverence in these songs.  In fact, I wouldn’t doubt it if he named the set III/IV referring to the standard count in for rock and roll.  One, two, three, four…


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