Ryan Adams and the Cardinals – Cardinology

Rating: ★★ · · ·

Dear Ryan Adams,

Back in the day you put together an amazing album Heartbreaker. In all honesty, that record is going to be remembered for years to come; it really is that good. But, now you come back at your fans with Cardinology!

First off, what on earth is going on with the album artwork? Is this one of the remaining pieces of the set from Roadhouse? Maybe that’s where you found the sound for this album. Perhaps it’s your attempt at establishing yourself as the artist formerly known as Ryan Adams, which would be understandable, as you bare no resemblance to the man who stepped out of the shadows of Whiskeytown.

This new record, Cardinology, well, it just doesn’t make any sense at all. Sure, many of those will remember some of the scattered breakthrough moments you shared with your old band, but your best efforts always seem to come from areas when you step aside from the full on band approach. Here, we find you overshadowed by the entire band, and often, you don’t even sound like yourself anymore.

For the most part, the opening to this album sounds like you wanted to take a pop approach to writing country songs, but you end up sounding like the Gin Blossoms or Third Eye Blind covering Americana songs. It feels overly contrived, as if you lost that magical touch that drew so many people to you in the first place. Listening to this album makes you seems as if you drifted further away from yourself; we were all sad to see you go.

As listeners, we appreciate some of the strong songs that do make their way through, such as “Let Us Down Easy” or “Crossed Out Name.” Each of those seems to exist in that distant place where you lived for so long, yet rarely visit these days. It has so much personality in the song, especially lyrically. You could go so far as to say that “Evergreen” can also be lumped in with the same batch of songs; they are all personal, making them more personal for the audience listening to your records.

Then again, as you make headway, you add a song like “Stop.” If anyone decided to rip off Neil Young playing the piano, it had to be you. There is no passion here, and the lyrics seem so ridiculous. Did you really write “you are not alone,” and throw it into a song? Way to be original. You know what would be original? A Ryan Adams record without the Cardinals that broke our hearts; a record that made us believe; a record we all really need.

9 comments

  • Like you said, this record comes off trying to sound like an alt-rock or alt-country/rock album and Ryan Adams just can’t hold up vocals like that anymore. Maybe in the days of Whiskeytown he could pull that off but he’s never had a rock n roll voice. Some of the vocals on this album made me cringe. I actually really enjoyed his Cardinals work on Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights but this album has a lot more misses than hits. Maybe he should start doing drugs again……

  • Quote = “First off, what on earth is going on with the album artwork? Is this one of the remaining pieces of the set from Roadhouse? Maybe that’s where you found the sound for this album. Perhaps it’s your attempt at establishing yourself as the artist formerly known as Ryan Adams…”

    LOL. Absolutely nailed it.

  • Please….your taste is in your ass.

    You know what would be original, blog-o’sphere critics with some substance to them and an opinion that actually matters.

    Ryan is a true artist and talent and his work will out last any piece of crap “criticism” you pump out.

  • Yeah, Joanne… there’s a lot of “substance” in your response

  • C’mon people, the guy wrote “Halloween Head.”
    ~Ram

  • I’d have trouble coming up with good original artwork too if i put out 6 albums a year. Luckily, i’m not prolific enough to have that problem.

  • Seriously, why does anyone actually care about this dude. He hasn’t put out a single good record in years. “A true artist and talent?” Is that putting him in the same vein as Christina Aguilera? She’s a pop artist, and the girl has talent. Face it people…this guy is a McDouchebag Sandwich…let him die already.

  • Next Door Neighbor

    I’m listening to Ryan Adams “live” on XM right now and I want to punch him in the neck. The twin guitar attack is giving off a definite Southern Rock a la Skynyrd vibe but it just doesn’t seem to work. Sad, plaintive lyrics and a big, reverb-drenched guitar sound just don’t go together. Maybe Ryan should quit rocking, fire the Cardinals and get back to his more acoustic-driven work. He’s a weepy little sad sack and, like all weepy little sad sacks, should only play acoustic guitar.

    But… he did bang Parker Posey and she’s a dirty hot party slut if there ever was one.

    Dry your tears, Ryan. Just wipe them on the tattered sleeve of your jean jacket and sing me a song. Sing me a song about barren, wind-swept plains. Make those plains a metaphor for the emptiness you feel in your sad, black heart since that little fuck biscuit Parker sacked your mewly ass. Do it, Ryan. Do it for me.. the Next Door Neighbor.

  • Funny. I’d like to hear you write a song that is even listenable.

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