So, a new Ryan Adams album is on the horizon (Prisoners) and I’m kinda tempted to buy it.  Just kinda, because I haven’t really been blown away by what I’ve heard from it and there are some other releases over the next month or so that are high on my list (Duke Garwood’s Garden of Ashes and the remastered and remixed Texas Jerusalem Crossroads by Lift To Experience).  But, I do like Ryan Adams a helluva lot, so there’s a good chance I’ll pick it up.

Anyhoo, usually when there’s a new Ryan Adams album there’s the usual ‘is it the new Heartbreaker’ and, well, as much as I dig that album, I’d much prefer something like Cold Roses or Jacksonville City Nights.  Man, those albums are just about perfect (Friends would have been the perfect closer for Cold Roses) and they sit wonderfully next to Strangers Almanac.

I’m not gonna lie.  I discovered Strangers Almanac a little later than 1997.  Must have been just around the turn of the Millennium.  Folks worried about whether the Millennium bug was actually waiting to derail everything and I was fretting over how I managed to miss Whiskeytown.  After all, here was this alt. country band that could have been the genre’s Nirvana.  Potential crossover act (Adams would eventually manage that with Gold) and many have said that they should have blown the doors wide open, etc etc.  When I finally discovered it, the band had pretty much looked to be done (Pneumonia was looking like an unlikely release at the time) and, well, they eventually would be.

It was the first country sounding alt. country record I had heard and it blew me away – much like Richard Buckner had a few years before.  See, the thing about Stangers Almanac – and this is true to this day – is that it has an energy and rawness that’s juxtaposed with the brilliantly assured writing (illustrated perfectly during Everything I Do or Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight).  They still sound as ramshackle as on Faithless Street, but there’s a confidence and swagger despite the band, much like the characters in the album, coming apart at the seams.

Like much of Adams’ work, it has its critics (the predictable Replacements / Gram Parsons comments), but it’ll always be one of my favourites.  I mean, as well as featuring a few of my all-time favourite songs (16 Days, Dancing With The Women At The Bar and Avenues) and as good a setting setter (?) as you’ll find in Inn Town, it’s been a go-to album when I need to reset my musical compass.  I guess you could say that Adams’ success with Gold has, in some way, thrown Whiskeytown to the back of alt. country’s important albums.  Adam’s credibility often queried as a result of his detours into mainstream singer-songwriter / country rock / every-man stylings.

Sure, Ryan Adams has been a bit inconsistent and has maybe released a bunch of stuff that suffers from sounding throwaway or lacking in quality control and he may not be experimenting with different textures in the way Jeff Tweedy is, but that doesn’t mean his words and music are any less vital.  He’s at his best he’s wearing his heart and influences on his sleeve and relaying tales about hearts being trampled and ripped to shreds.

Just like he is on here.

And on Heartbreaker.

And on Cold Roses.

And on Jacksonville City Nights.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s about time I bought that expanded Strangers Almanac reissue on vinyl (and likely Prisoner, too).

As always, cheers for reading.

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32 thoughts on “That Ryan Adams guy has a new album coming out.

    1. I do remember hearing Heartbreaker and Gold when I’d been in there. I used to love that music department… before they cut it down I bought a bunch of my stuff there.

      You’d probably find more to like in his his sci-fi heavy metal project (Orion). That was quite something…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve not even heard of that, I’ll look it up on Spotify.

        The music dept. was great down there. I hated it when it got cut down… I moved to the book section not long after that happened! Shame it shut… they could have added a cool vinyl section there if it was still around.

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      2. You’d have better luck via YouTube, as it never received a wide release. It’s quite something, though.

        I rarely visited the music section when it was cut down. Certainly never bought anything, as the selection was the standard kinda stuff you would find in HMV or whatever. Used to have a great selection.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah it a brilliant selection. When it was still owned by the US Borders it got all the import goodies! But when it got sold off it was just big releases and obvious back cat stuff that they could put on promos. Used to have brilliant specialist selections… were never that good for metal though.

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      4. I bought a few imported goods. Richard Buckner and Joe Henry albums… stuff that you had to ask HMV to order (remember when they’d order stuff!?)

        And yeah, the back catalogue stuff was pointless. 2 for £15 or whatever… £5 in Fopp. Didn’t need to be a maths guy to work out the best deal there.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Danica. Definitely worth revisiting, though I can understand how you may have missed being moved by what you’ve heard (there’s so much of it and the best stuff is generally overlooked).

      Strangers Almanac is a great place to start. When it comes to his solo stuff, I honestly couldn’t recommend Heartbreaker, Cold Roses, or Jacksonville City Nights highly enough.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Deke – attempting to post more often (famous last words!).

      I’d completely forgot all about the Maiden cover! Think that was for yon Californication show.

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  1. I remember reading that he once had someone thrown out of one of his gigs for shouting for ‘Run to You’ – personally, that would have amused me no end. Mind you my real name is Bert Cobain.

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    1. Funnily enough, I think people still find that funny. Both times I saw him folks were calling for Run To You.

      Guess that’s why he embraced the, eh, inner Bryan Adams a few years back… even covered Run To You and Summer Of ’69 live. Imagine he figured he’d best learn them if people were gonna keep requesting them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries. I think there are always holes in any Ryan Adams collection. I have a few myself – mostly stuff that I just didn’t dig enough to bother buying it.

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    1. Though I gather he gets less than cheerful when people compare him to Tweedy, personally, I’d be flattered by the undeserved comparison!
      And J – Heartbreaker wins for me as I’m obligated to vote for any album that opens with a discussion of a Morrissey single 😀
      Really liked Gold as well (also on the 1001) & I like your counter-argument to lack-of-editing criticisms.
      Nice one J!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Geoff. Heartbreaker is a pretty great debut, eh? A pretty bold move starting it with Aruement With David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey. Y’know, I never bothered to find out who was right…

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Being There is my favourite early Wilco. That’s perfectly balanced and there are nods at where they were headed. Summerteeth is probably my favourite Wilco album, right enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I should have seen that ending coming!
    I do like so much of his stuff, and I like his versatility, but I guess just with the sheer amount that he puts out, it’s a bit of a gamble whether or not I’ll love a whole album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah – I think that’s been the issue for his last couple of releases. That said, his version of Taylor Swift’s 1984 album is pretty brilliant start to finish.

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