Easy Tiger :: Review of the new Ryan Adams album

I'm a huge fan of Ryan Adams' work.
"God save us from Ryan Adams."

The New Album - Easy Tiger
Verdict: Very Easy to Love

Ryan Adams' ninth studio album was released less than two weeks ago and it's one of my favorites in his collection. I realize now why that is... His label took some of his creative freedoms away. The album is an impeccable mish-mash off all Ryan's music genres: he dances from rock; "Halloweenhead," to country twang; "Pearls on a String," to vocal-strengthened guitar tracks; "Two" (which features Sheryl Crow), on to blues-influenced Grateful Dead-homage music, "Goodnight Rose."

Ryan Adams is the sole name on the CD. His country-rock specializing backing band, The Cardinals, are not credited here. I was unsure of the motives - but based on an interview I read in the new Uncut magazine (July 2007)...

"It's not the record I wanted to make," Ryan says, unprovoked. "Not at all." Adams wanted, he says, to make an album that was more about his backing band, The Cardinals. His label, Lost Highway, were allegedly not enthralled by this prospect. "They were very specific," said Adams. "They didn't want a Cardinals record, they didn't want a rock record. They wanted a record which was predominantly acoustic guitar, and just under my name. I obliged, because I only have so much fight in me." (Ryan Adams interview with Andrew Mueller)

I find Adams' words very telling. Not perhaps because that they represent the truth, but because they represent that overall - he no longer has complete artistic control. He makes the songs, they release the albums. While this would be unhealthy for most - perhaps this is exactly what Ryan Adams needs. Easy Tiger is a great album - and nothing that Ryan Adams says will ruin it for me. "God Save Us from Ryan Adams."

Returning back to the Ryan Adams who is recorded on Easy Tiger. The artist may feel cornered, but he triumphs on this new record. Adams is still making great songs without regard to what people might consider his proper music type. The song order are a bit of a jumble - but the fact that there 13 tracks versus the three full-length albums Ryan released over a nine-and-a-half months. That's a hell of a lot of music to put your arms around. Fans would inevitably arrive at a show interested in hearing specific songs they enjoy, but Ryan would have already moved on... Good for Ryan, keeping it fresh while on the road. Not always great for fans who had not yet fallen in love with three albums worth of brand new material. And still, Ryan has survived to release new material... So the bottom line is that while disjointed, Easy Tiger is digestible and remarkably tight. The songwriting and performances are concise.

I thoroughly enjoy this record - despite how much Adams wanted to make a different album. I have elected to share one of my favorite tracks from the new record, "Everybody Knows." It's one of the songs that dances on the fine line between the music types that live on Easy Tiger. It could be the best song on the record. I will let you decide. Go out and buy the record.

The Rescue Blues (live)
Bristol, UK - Feb. 21, 2006


Anonymous said…
Interesting -- and nice review. I really dig this album as well. I really like basically every track on this disc, but if I had to pick a standout (or two), I'd have to go with "Two" (GREAT TRACK) and "The Sun Also Sets."
Anonymous said…
I also agree - very easy to love this album. I like the concise arrangements of these tracks - which performed live seem to angle more toward the "jam thing" and less about the simple song structure. While disjointed, I tend to enjoy the running order of this album as well. It's one of the few albums (these days) that I just let play from beginning to end. That alone, is a testament to quality. Easy Tiger is among Ryan's best and most-focused work!
runaway dorothy said…
At first listen I really liked this record, but I have to say that I have some production issues with it. The drums sound terrible. I can't for the life of me figure out why they would go for those sounds. The Follow Ep sounds 10x better. But I am sure it is selling well so good for him and the record label.

runaway dorothy
New York, NY 10009

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Anonymous said…
Ryan quiting means he'll only release 2 albums a year, right?


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