In the middle of the Rock N Roll-sounding “Halloween Head,” Ryan Adams yells “Guitar solo!” immediately before it actually begins. It’s an almost embarrassingly silly moment, one that displays the self-indulgence that often turns people off to him. But when Adams says “What the fuck is wrong with me?” a minute and a half later, it becomes apparent that for once he’s is ready to laugh with his critics. Although “Halloween Head” is perhaps the loudest track on Easy Tiger, it may in fact be the most sobering. Pun intended.
By the time the thirteenth song comes to end, it seems that the “What the fuck is wrong with me?” sentiment was the driving force behind the creation of Easy Tiger, his ninth solo album. What’s astonishing is that instead of wallowing in self-pity, Adams has effectively side-stepped his past slip-ups. The album is a tightrope walker, constantly straddling the line between sincerity and unapologetic rocking. It’s also one of Adams’s strongest records — maybe even his best.
If you followed Adams’s solo career closely, you’d see that each album tended to stick to a stylistic theme. If Heartbreaker (2000) was his Dylan album, and Love Is Hell (2004) was his Smiths album, Easy Tiger sounds like the first Ryan Adams album. Rather than sticking to one idea over the course of forty minutes, he exploring many sounds and channeling them into something personal. He’s perfecting his craft. And, more important, knowing which thirteen songs to keep and which thirty to disregard.
Opener “Goodnight Rose” finds his backing band, the Cardinals, in full Crazy Horse mode. “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc” and “These Girls” prove that Adams can live up to the troubadour moniker many felt was prematurely cast upon him. And “Two,” his fabled “duet” with Sheryl Crow, sounds like it can thrust Adams back into the spotlight he hasn’t been in since “New York, New York.” Love him or hate him, Easy Tiger shows that Ryan Adams isn’t going anywhere.
“Everybody Knows” MP3