Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger

Ryan Adams new disc, Easy Tiger, has been out for a few weeks now, and it’s been in heavy rotation for me. Prior to this CD, Ryan Adams was releasing music at a very quick pace (three hit and miss albums in about a seven month period). Adams and his band, the Cardinals, took their time with Easy Tiger (it’s been a year and a half since the last release), and the result is the most solid Ryan Adams disc since 2001’s Gold.

The albums starts off with “Goodnight Rose,” a rocking promise of the good music to come.

sample of Goodnight Rose by Ryan Adams (mp3)

“Two,” an easy going track, where the singer makes the case for reconciling a broken relationship follows. In fact, a lot of these songs are about pained relationships. It is true tortured artists make the best music?

There are so many good songs here its hard to make a case for a favorite. But on “Everybody Knows” the way the guitar riffs counterpoint the melody of the verses is almost musical perfection. Adams’ lyrical skills are in fine form here as well.

sample of Everybody Knows by Ryan Adams (mp3)

You come for me in the worst of places.
You come for me, you come and try to take me home.
I’m always in need, and it’s hard to be reciprocating.
The fabric of our life gets torn.
Everything’s changing, so how am I to know?
How I’m going to hold on to you when I’m spinning out of control?
You and I together but only one of us in love.
And everybody knows.

Adams is definitely working in the alt-country genre here, where I believe he really shines. “Tears of Gold” is so alt-country it sounds like it was lifted from a Gram Parsons record. “Pearls On A String” has a definite bluegrass feel.

sample of Pearls On A String by Ryan Adams (mp3)

But my favorite Ryan Adams songs are quite often the ones where he put his emotions out there for the world to see (or rather… hear). His backing band, the Cardinals, does an outstanding job of expressing those emotions musically as well.

sample of The Sun Also Sets by Ryan Adams (mp3)

I wanna know how it all works out.
I had a feeling we were fading out.
I didn’t know that people faded out so fast.
That people faded out,
When there was love enough left to fix it,
But, there it is.
There it is, we are only one push from the nest.
There it is, we are only one argument from deaf.
There it is, the sun rises.
But the sun sets, the sun also sets

That heart-on-the-sleeve approach is also put into play on the album closer. “I Taught Myself How To Grow Old” is a contemplative song complete with a mournful, wailing harmonica. You can watch a web-only performance of “I Taught Myself How To Grow Old” from the CBS Late Show.

While perhaps not the best album in the Ryan Adams catalog, Easy Tiger does stand up strongly along side his finest.