Monday, April 25, 2011

Album Review: Ryan Adams – Demolition

Following his Gold album, Ryan Adams had been working on 4 albums concurrently, The Suicide Handbook, 48 Hours, The Pinkheart Sessions and the Swedish sessions. Although Lost Highway torpedoed this plan, they are heavily bootlegged. Notwithstanding this, Lost Highway in their wisdom put out a compilation of tracks from these projects in 2002, entitled Demolition.

It might have been better if they hadn’t. This was effectively the follow-up to Gold, and it doesn’t work particularly well as an album. It has to be said that Adams’ prolific songwriting badly needed an editor. Tracks like Nuclear, Starting to Hurt and especially Gimme A Sign sounded like MOR ‘rawk’ and are pretty forgettable.

The country-tinged tracks (Hallelujah, Desire) are an improvement, though none of them are a patch on his work with Whiskeytown. On the other hand Chin Up, Cheer Up is a sprightly, bluegrass romp on banjos which is really enjoyable to listen to.
As for his line in forlorn folk, She Wants To Play Hearts and the cello-driven You Will Always Be The Same don’t boast strong melodies, yet they work in an understated way, though the woah-woahs of Tomorrow lapse into tedium.

And yet: this is one talented guy. Rescuing the album from disaster are plaintive piano ballad Cry On Demand which marries a kind of open, catchy tune to a slightly clichéd lyric, and two other fine tracks. Dear Chicago sounds really moody with its reverbed guitars, casually husky vocal from Adams and wonderfully self-pitying lyrics about how “I’m gonna die alone and sad.” Most unfortunately the track only lasts 2 minutes! Jesus (Don’t Touch My Baby) sounds like nothing else he has done, with a deep vocal over a wash of keyboards, reminiscent of something off Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy.

A very patchy collection, some great songs and some filler. Much like his career.