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Editors’ Notes

Ryan Adams records more albums than he can release. With that said, he released three albums in 2005: the double-LP Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights and 29. Considering the density of Adams’ work — he’s not exactly a jovial pop type — it was a bit like being handed three pieces of ultra-rich cheesecake all at once. In retrospect, with time to digest the material, 29 is another prize-winning effort from a young man who loves so much rock music that he wants to do it all. The title track plays like a haunted piece of Creedence Clearwater Revival swamp rock, and its foreboding sense sets the tone for the rest of the album.  “Strawberry Wine” is a back porch ballad where the liquor has flowed freely. “Night Birds” lingers with a gentle sway. “Carolina Rain” is a brilliant exposition of Adams’ country home and the roots he once denied as a young punk. “Starlite Diner” settles around the piano for a deep confessional. “The Sadness” evokes the lonely ache of Roy Orbison.

Customer Reviews

Completing the Trifecta

Ryan Adams completes the trifecta he promised in 2005 with the release of "29". Unlike 'Cold Roses' & "Jacksonville City Nights", Ryan Adams attacks this piece alone. Although the third released this year, it was the first recorded after his broken wrist and you can hear it as a perfect continuation of "Love Is Hell." "29" is more a more personal, introspective work than 'Roses' & 'JCN', and its what Ryan Adams' fans have come to expect. Some of his finest work is found in tracks 'Strawberry Wine', 'Carolina Rain', and 'Voices'. If you're a Ryan Adams fan, you will pleased. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, buy the album. Ryan Adams is as good as it gets.

Unfortunately, third time is NOT the charm for "29"

My favorite Ryan Adams albums have always been the ones recorded with Ethan Johns (the producer of "Heartbreaker," "Gold," Whiskeytown's "Pneumonia," and sections of "Demolition"), so I was really looking forward to hearing "29." Seeing as it's Ryan's third and final release this year, I was hoping that he had saved the best for last; unfortunately, such is not the case with "29." "29" starts off with the title song, a tune that is darn near plagiarized from the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'" (something every review you read of this album will mention). It is also the most "rocking" moment on an otherwise calm and gloomy album. The other tracks on "29" develop the melancholy of pre-"lloR 'n' kcoR" Ryan with lots of sad piano- and acoustic-guitar ballads. "Night Birds" sounds like a leftover track from the "Love is Hell" sessions, especially as it deteriorates into a reverb-soaked conclusion; "Blue Sky Blues" recalls "Goodnight Hollywood Blvd." off of "Gold;" "Carolina Rain" maintains a country waltz that would not sound out of place alongside the quiter moments of "JCN." Sadly, this is a lackluster Ryan Adams album. Although the production of the album (sparse, quiet, stripped-down instrumentation) ranks along the best of Ryan's work, the songwriting is surprisingly mediocre. Of course, a second-rate Ryan Adams album is still better than most first-rate pop music, but it's also frustrating seeing Ryan failing to meet the potential of his best moments. One can't help but wonder what would have happened if Ryan had taken the best of his three albums (and four discs worth of music) this year and compiled it into one killer album. Are three middle of the road Ryan Adams records better than one brilliant one? Although I will buy everything Ryan releases, I think the Golden Heartbreaker might be better served by some restraint and editing in the future.

Can You Still Have Any Famous Last Words if You're Somebody Nobody Knows

Ryan Adams is the most prolific artist of the decade releasing nine albums so far including two earlier this year. Now he’s back with his third and presumable last of 2005 and the first this year without his backing band The Cardinals, 29. With the band taking this album off, 29 is more sparse and reminiscing of old time country albums that evoke cowboys sitting around a campfire with an acoustic guitar telling tales. Even though most of the album has that campfire feel to it, 29 starts off with its most rugged track that shares the name of the album which sounds like it would best be performed behind a chain link fence in a southern bar. The later on the album there is The Sadness that sounds influenced by old time mariachi band but without the horn section. What have always drawn me to Ryan Adams though are his sad songs and there is no shortage here. For those who enjoy their sadness accompanied with an acoustic guitar instead check out Strawberry Wine and Night Birds. While those who prefer a piano there is Blue Skies Blue and Elizabeth, You Were Made to Play the Part where your heart will break when he sings the line, “I'm not strong enough to let you go.” And his storytelling as a whole has improved most notably on Carolina Rain a song about the hardships some people have faced throughout their lives.


Genre: Rock

Mixing the heartfelt angst of a singer/songwriter with the cocky brashness of a garage rocker, Ryan Adams is at once one of the few artists to emerge from the alt-country scene to achieve mainstream commercial success and the one who most strongly refused to be defined by the genre, leaping from one spot to another stylistically while following his increasingly prolific muse. Adams was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1974. While country music was a major part of his family's musical diet...
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29, Ryan Adams
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