Review ·
Whether or not there’s any truth to it, a frequently espoused rock myth is that the most drug-addled artists -- Keith Richards, Lou Reed, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan in ‘65/’66 -- create their most visionary and compelling work while locked in the nerve-numbed wasteland of junksick depravity and addiction.  And the logical terminus of that myth is that when those artists clean up, the music remains good, but never as stunningly powerful as before.

In a way it’s perversely fitting, then, that Ryan Adams, one of modern music’s most alternately recalcitrant and rock myth-obsessed artists, would release a record that obliterates that notion (or at least proves an exceptional exception to the rule). Cardinology, his fifth record with the Cardinals in just three years (remember who we’re talking about), positively hums with the clarity, wit, heart, songs and music-history acumen Adams has been desperately trying to convince us all is his stock-in-trade ever since he emerged from the Whiskeytown implosion with 2000’s HeartbreakerCardinology’s breakthrough is that, via Adams’ newfound sobriety, it proves he was right all along.

Gently blurring the lines between the warm golden haze of pedal-steel’d country rock with elements of tasteful, classicist new wave, the quietly intimate Cardinology jettisons the schizoid, freewheeling genre-hopping of previous records, giving the album -- and, most important, the songs -- an intensity of focus where there was once just intensity: The ringing slow-groove of “Fix It” melds a Gram Parsons-style musical lament to soaring melodies that recall a time when you didn’t hate U2; the gorgeous country embrace of “Born into a Light” builds upon Heartbreaker’s foundations while removing the ‘alt-' from its genre tag; and “Magick” and “Sink Ships” swagger with a life and confidence that for Adams, finally, not only sounds deserved but also inevitable.

Megapuss - Surfing Max Tundra Parallax Error Beheads You

It's weird. I'm a huge Ryan Adams fan. And yet I'm not sure that this album deserves the great reviews it's gotten. I think it's a little on the boring side compared to most of his other albums. And then the records he's done that I find great get lukewarm reviews, it seems. Ah, what do I know?

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I'm the same way. I think Cold roses is his best work, but it kinda gets teased by the professionals. Cardinology is definatly good, but not great.


I like this one but it's nowhere near as good as Love is Hell. Been a fan since early Whiskeytown and I'll go on being one regardless of what he does, but I don't think this album deserves either the highs or lows in reviews it's garnered.


Yeah I'm a bit surprised at this too. I feel like this album is pretty weak. Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights have much better songs. This one is kind of boring to me.


Well I like this album a lot - and I have been a fan since Whiskeytown days as well. I think it's because this is a more consistent and instantly accessible collection. Most of Ryan's records seem to polarize the fans and critics alike. Perhaps because he can genre hop his fan base can like different apsects. I wasn't so sue about easy tiger - and this is in the same grain but better executed for my money. Cardinals are very very good live though and I am liking what they do to songs over time - witness the latest UK tour which I think is now mostly all up on Cardinology is better live than it is on record.


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