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Buy Gold

Ryan Adams
label: Lost Highway
released: 09.25.01
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0

1. New York, New York
2. Firecracker
3. Answering Bell
4. La Cienega Just Smiled
5. The Rescue Blues
6. Somehow, Someday
7. When The Stars Go Blue
8. Nobody Girl
9. Sylvia Plath
10. Enemy Fire
11. Gonna Make You Love Me
12. Wild Flowers
13. Harder Now That It's Over
14. Touch, Feel & Lose
15. Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues
16. Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd

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More Like a Lot of Brass
by: bill aicher

From a quick glance at the cover of Gold, you may immediately think "Now there's a good ol' American rock 'n' roll boy." Then, as you take a second look you may notice the flag Ryan Adams has placed himself before is, in fact, inverted. So your next thought may be, "What, is he trying to be the anti-hero to Bruce Springsteen and his classic 'Born in the USA' image?" The reality, however, is that the question is pointless overall since you're never going to achieve a complete answer. One thing that is certain though is the fact that from the cover alone you can get the feel that Adams has a tendency to place himself in a much greater light than he may deserve. Still, upon actually listening to the album you'll learn he's not quite the pompous bastard he'd like you to believe. He's more of a run-of-the-mill rock 'n' roll jackass.

First off, it must be made clear that being a jackass isn't bad by default when it comes to rock music. It is, after all, what makes some musicians so memorable. They're emotional creatures by design; where else would they find the words for their poetry? This Whiskeytown frontman is no different. Gold is, without argument, a collection of fairly sucessful roots rock concoctions - each one defined by a strong lyrical sense.

Like most successful country/rock confections, Adams does the obligatory exploration of emotion through an array of introspective ballads and all-out rockers (well as rocking as folk rock can get). "La Cienega Just Smiled," "Firecracker" and "Sylvia Plath" are ample proof of this songwriting and musical ability. And overall the album is an impressive exploration of territory previously covered by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and other greats before him.

Still the album does hold an overall air of narcissism. With a running time of over 70 minutes, one can't help but notice Adams overindulgence in himself. By the time "Harder Now That It's Over" comes to a close you'll find yourself realizing the album really hasn't gone anywhere since "Enemy Fire" and you're wondering why it's still playing. Sure, each track on Gold is good for what it is (I do personally dig this disc) but in all reality none of them is truly outstanding. Adams is absolutely a great rock musician with a superbly crafted lyrical sense, but he isn't God.

Sorry Ryan, but you aren't.
12-Aug-2002 9:04 AM

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