Gold





Take a moment, please, and look directly to the left of where you're looking right now. Yes, that's it, feast your hungry eyes on the album cover for Ryan Adams' second solo LP, Gold. Not that I necessarily endorse judging a book by its cover (although, honestly, I probably do), one look at the artwork discloses what you're in for if you plunk your $20 down on this one ó all style, not much substance. The ex-Whiskeytown frontman moved to Los Angeles last year and has had so many hangers-on blowing dreams of Graham Parsons up his ass, he's become the very thing he disparages ... a poser. Check out the American flag upside down (he's rebellious to the core!), his hair properly disheveled (aesthetics schmaesthetics!) and his attire bonafied Urban-Outfitters-hipster, it's almost enough to think he's making some big statement about what a nutty sellout he's become (and don't miss the inside artwork ñ he's a bad boy with a gun!). In fact, let's even assume he is making fun of himself ... unfortunately, the music isn't quite strong enough to sustain the joke. Unlike the beautifully sparse predecessor (Heartbreaker), everything on Gold is seriously bloated: the production; guest vocals and back-up parts; and most of the songs themselves. Barring a few stand out tracks ñ "New York, NY," "Wildflowers," "When the Stars Go Blue" ñ he's made a surprisingly bland record when compared to his previous solo outing and his Whiskeytown catalog. Come to think of it, that's exactly the problem ñ Ryan Adams is a seriously talented artist, and as such, is his own worst enemy. He's created serious expectations for himself as a songwriter, and he just isn't living up to them here. Oh well, there's always next time. And somebody please tell him he looks like an idiot holding a gun ...

Ryan Adams
Lost Highway Records

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Gold