Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Album Review: Ryan Adams with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings – Destroyer Sessions


This album was recorded in 2000, before Ryan Adams’ debut but never released. Most of it was never released in any shape or form, which is understandable as it’s not very commercial, but it’s a shame, as it’s a lost gem.

Adams sounds really relaxed on most of the tracks here, and most of them sound like they just came accidentally into being. The backing music is largely himself plus Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and they conjure up a subtle backing on tracks like Dreaming’s Free, which is a relatively simple tune where Adams “thanks God dreaming’s free cos I spent all my money making make-believe”. Poison and the Pain has a classic acoustic country blues progression with a weather beaten vocal from Adams.

Rainy Days is a lovely gentle melody featuring some pretty xylophone, while Statuettes with Wounds is a barely there ditty where you can almost feel the warm breeze. Hey There, Mrs Lovely was later resurrected and retitled as “These Girls” on 2007’s Easy Tiger, but it sounds fully formed here. It’s a largely acoustic song, like a lot of the material here featuring a nice relaxed vocal from Adams.

The xylophone makes a welcome return on Nighttime Gals, and then later on the album In My Time of Need and Bartering Lines were salvaged for Heartbreaker. Neither differ particularly here from the released versions, though Bartering Lines is a little rawer, featuring a creeping acoustic guitar line and more prominent backing vocals from Rawlings.

Final track, Time (The Revelator) is a total change of pace. It’s completely different to the acoustic version which ended up on Gillian Welch’s Revelator. Here it’s a Neil Young / Crazy Horse style swampy where the band display an admiral grasp of dynamics, as the song lurches along with great guitar work. The unfortunate thing is it fades out all too quickly.

The problem with reviewing this is it hasn’t received a ‘proper’ release, but it’s another interesting sideline in Ryan Adams’ large back catalogue.