Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Jan 28, 2011 Web Exclusive
Ryan Adams catches so much shit for being unable to define a cohesive artistic vision, but it's time for people to acknowledge that a big part of Adams' appeal is never knowing what you're gonna get. This is his vision: "I'm Ryan Adams and I'm gonna do whatever the fuck I feel like." Sure, taking that sort of reckless approach to recording can make the hit-to-miss ratio pretty unpredictable, but the thing about Ryan Adams is that he never sounds insincere and with pop music, sincerity is nearly half the battle. Culled from an insane six-month recording party in 2007 with The Cardinals, which yielded over 60 songs (standard protocol for Adams), III/IV features 21 tracks on two discs and similar to everything Adams has done since 2004's Love Is Hell, the results are mixed.
III/IV gets a little bit of a break up front because it isn't really an official album release, more of a "Hey, man, listen to what we found" kind of release. While there isn't anything especially memorable about it, there also isn't anything particularly terrible about it. In fact, knowing that it comes from the Easy Tiger-sessions and that it's the result of Adams' incredible work ethic makes III/IV a pretty charming listen. Those familiar with Easy Tiger will be surprised (some pleasantly) to find that this material sounds most like Rock n Roll-era Adams, a mode for which Adams always deserved more credit.
Similar to 2004's eternally memorable "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home," the most convincing moments here are when Adams is totally unapologetic about his fondness for Morrissey and The Smiths ("Lovely and Blue," "Gracie," "Death and Rats"). In the end, though, while it's fun to hear some new (old) material from Ryan Adams and his fantastic band, The Cardinals, it's pretty easy to see why this stuff wasn't released and while the jury is still out on whether or not retirement was a good idea for Adams, III/IV does indicate that it was time for an extended vacation. (www.paxamrecords.com)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 7/10