The Music Catalog of Ryan Adams

Kicking off his solo career in 2000 with his debut album
Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams has been praised by the likes of Bonnie Rait, Willie Nelson, and Emmylou Harris.

In 2002, Adams was asked to perform at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, an annual concert that in the past has included performers such as Bob Dylan, The Who, and Pearl Jam. That is an impressive list of fans for the 30-year-old singer/songwriter.

If you haven’t heard of him, now is your chance to jump on the bandwagon. On May 3rd, Adams and his new band The Cardinals released Cold Roses, a double-album exploring his country-rock roots. He is also expected to release two more albums later this year, making him one of the most prolific writers in music today.

Now we all know that buying CDs can get expensive and that time is short in our lives. So please allow me to catch you up on the career of Ryan Adams with this short quide, covering all of his solo albums.

Heartbreaker, 2000
Thought by many to be Adams’ best disc. A quiet record, mostly featuring adams and his acoustic guitar and harmonica with a little help from Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, and Emmylou Harris. Recorded in Nashville, Adams sings of broken relationships and wanting to find a real love that will last.

His voice is sweet and innocent, making this a perfect record for you to put on when you’re in that retrospective sort of mood. The leadoff track, “To Be Young, Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High,” was recently picked by Stephen King as one of his favorite songs. That tune along with “Come Pick Me Up” and “Winding Wheel” are some of the highlights on this beautiful debut album.

Gold, 2001
This album made Adams a rock star. It’s the only album that features a song (“New York, New York”) that dented the radio charts–and might be the only song you’ve ever heard by him. It’s a shame beacuse hidden gems like “La Cienega Just Smiled” and “Wildflowers” are some of Adams’ best songs to date. You might have also heard The Corrs and Bono’s cover of “When The Stars Go Blue;” on Gold, Adams shows off his much sweeter original version. Gold is probably the perfect Adams record for the first-time listener.

Demolition, 2002
Having so many unreleased tracks piling up over the years, Adams decided to release Demolition, a collecetion of demos that hold up well with his previous work. Most of the songs are about ex-girlfriends, Winona Ryder and the late Carrie Hamilton. It starts off with a bang with “Nuclear” and also has it’s softer moments with “Cry on Demand” and “Desire.” There a few duds (“Jesus, Don’t Touch My Baby” and “Tennessee Sucks”) but overall it is a nice collection–one that you may find to be just as good as anything he has released.

Rock N Roll, 2003
Here, Adams throws us a curve ball with an album full of rockers that would have sounded just fine during the 1980’s. Adams does have a punk background, so maybe it was something for him to get out of his system, but this record had a lot of his fans shaking their heads. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who like this angry record, but I am not one of them. If you must listen to it, check out “So Alive” and “Burning Photographs.”

Love is Hell, 2004
Originally released as two separate EPs, the full-length disc finally sirfaced after Adams broke his wrist in the winter of 2004. It’s a dark and depressing collection of songs, with Adams sounding like he’d rather be dead most of the time. He often been quoted as saying this is his masterpiece. While I agree that it is an interesting piece of work, this is probably one to listen to after you’re very familiar with his previous work. If this is your first experience with Adams’ music, you’ll probably end up hiding in a dark closet for weeks.

Cold Roses, 2005
On this double-album, we find Adams rediscovering his country-rock roots and jamming with his new band, The Cardinals. It’s probably his best effort since Gold, featuring standout tracks such as “Let it Ride,” “Easy Plateau,” and “Friends.” Adams shows off his songwriting skills and vocals over 80 minutes of music. It’s also agreat disc to start your “Ryan Adams experience.” So if you like “new releases,” pick this one up today!

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