While I've considered myself a fan of Ryan Adams for a while now, I've definitely found his discography to be a bit hit or miss at times. He's been an unpredictable musical goofball, although perhaps that is part of his charm that first got me hooked on his music in the first place. His choice of musical genres to tackle always bounced around, going from his early days of alt country to the haunting rock of Love Is Hell. With the addition of The Cardinals, we've seen the Ryan Adams pendulum swing back towards country. As for his latest album, Easy Tiger, we're seeing a much more polished and refined side to his career, and it is pretty damn good.
From all the studio insanity that Adams posted on his website over the past several months, such as the notorious "Look Who Got A Website" rap, Easy Tiger could have been just about anything. Fortunately he got the hijinx out of his system through these web bits, allowing him to offer up what could be his most mature collection of material to date. The album starts strong with the countrified "Goodnight Rose." As it begins, a sweeping slide guitar supports a strong guitar lick, but the most impressive first impression is of his voice. His tenor hasn't sounded this strong in years.
While most of the album continues with a fairly laid back alt-country vibe, Adams does get the itch to rock out now and then. "Halloweenhead" is one of these moments, containing one of the most memorable melodies on Easy Tiger. It is a bit nutters, but in a weird way I like it. The rock dissipates quickly, diving headfirst back into the twang with "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc" and the beautiful "Tears Of Gold." In fact, the later is easily one of the finest moments on this long player, as a meandering banjo joins the vocal harmonies.
Adams concludes with the harmonica and gospel flavored ballad "I Taught Myself How To Grow Old," which happens to have a little Morrissey sprinkled in the melody and rhythm of his vocals. It is a fitting end to the most grown up album he has offered up in quite some time. For fans that have stuck it out with him over his past several albums, you'll be glad that you did.
Ryan Adams at thirty-two and sober sounds like a man who is ready to give his career a complete reboot. Easy Tiger was the perfect way for this musician to get back on track, showing music fans the talent of his that got our attention in the first place.