Here we are again, reviewing yet another album from Ryan Adams. The second in his trilogy of albums this year, Jacksonville City Nights, could have easily been a dud. I mean, how many good songs can one dude write? In the case of Ryan Adams, he is just getting warmed up. Jacksonville continues his journey back through his country roots, giving us some of his finest work to date. He has harnessed the honky tonk heart of icons such as Merle Haggard and Hank Williams, in a move that has made skeptics who claimed that he would never again touch the brilliance of Heartbreaker think again. The album begins with the beautiful “A Kiss Before I Go”, filled to the brim with slide guitar and old country charm. “The End” marks some of Adams’ finest vocal work to date as he wails on the chorus, “Oh Jacksonville, how you’ve played with my mind.” One of the most shockingly amazing moments on this album happens to be on the Norah Jones duet “Dear John”. As the chorus swells with heartache, even the most hardened cowboy’s eyes would glisten with tears as they sing about a marriage gone wrong. There are a few fantastic pop moments as well, such as “The Hardest Part” which speeds along with a train-shuffle drumbeat filled with violin, acoustic guitar and piano. “My Heart Is Broken” could easily find its way to a true honky tonk dance floor, causing the locals to two-step the night away. Ryan Adams has dropped the “alt” from his alt-country label, which seems to have liberated his songs, helping them soar to new heights. If this is any indication of what his next album may be, his best may still be ahead of him yet. So pick up an old bottle of whiskey and raise your glass to Ryan Adams, as he has given us one hell of a good album.
Jacksonville City NIghts
POSTED October 5, 2005 12:00AM IN THE TRIPWIRE