Inspired. Focused. Tight.
These are the adjectives I would use to describe Ryan Adams’ 2005 double disc, Cold Roses. Not the traditional words one would think of when listing ways to asses a still-addicted Adams, this recording was something that signaled his permanent place in folk history for me. Alongside The Cardinals, Adams’ backing band and collaborators, he finds himself among nature and whatever utopian peace that can be found within a cloud of drug and alcohol induced euphoria.
I took a new listen to this album recently after reading Adams’ newest write-up in the uber-cool indie magazine Paste. Now I've listened to his most recent Easy Tiger many, many times already, so it was nice to delve back into his older collection to see where he came from, where he has been, through to what he has become. Much of the article was devoted to his relationship with The Cardinals, who I often took for granted or outright dismissed. However, it's clear that these guys have a special relationship with Adams that grounds the notoriously fickle artist.
I put this album on at work for a few days in a row and was pleasantly surprised that I still enjoyed it as much as I did. Songs such as "Meadowlake Street" and "Beautiful Sorta" seem to have taken on a new mood on my newest listen -- something that I've never heard in their original plays. When "Meadowlake Street" begins, it seems like any other Adams ballad in that it is a solo acoustic recording with a hauntingly soft vocal track. However, when the band breaks through, Adams' vocals become a frantic, almost pleading spectacle that looking back, highlights his growing paranoia in the real world.
Classics such as "Let It Ride," "Rosebud," and "Dance All Night" do not go unnoticed, but they stand out less now than they did way back when. Maybe it's just the circumstances, but as a whole, this album functions soundly, in stark contrast to his critically disastrous double disc, Love Is Hell.
While it's nice to see Adams supposedly kicking his habit, it's interesting to look back at his older stuff and see what his experiences have done to him. From "Easy Plateau(s)" and natural peace to today's contentedness, Adams seems to have achieved what he always wanted.
I just hope he isn't content with his music already.