The Cardinals have been good for Ryan Adams They’re the perfect pairing — in the same way as Bob Dylan and his Band, Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers and Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds.
Two albums in, and the partnership is already flourishing.
Latest longplayer, the dreadfully named Cardinology, is something of a throwback to the good old days of Whiskeytown and Adams’ solo classics such as Gold and particularly Heartbreaker.
Then, Adams was a visionary rock troubadour with much to offer with a stripped-bare musical repertoire that was something to behold.
Helped by the likes of Emmylou Harris and the great Gillian Welch, Adams produced a whole wealth of timeless material.
Cracks appeared soon after, though, when MOR replaced alt.country cool and the American seemed to have gone all conformist with a sound more in keeping with his mellow rocker namesake Bryan — aargh!
Cardinology, like its predecessor, Easy Tiger, makes amends with a series of diverse and unpretentious tunes that embrace lovely harmonies, svelte melodies, gentle acoustics and thought-provoking lyrics. As I said, a little like the old days.
The sound — the instrumentation is minimal — is perfectly uncluttered giving the audaciously gifted Adams the ideal vehicle for his strong vocals, which are particularly brilliant on the beautiful alt.country Neil Young-like, Like Yesterday. Elsewhere, Adams excels on songs such as Fix It, Cobwebs and the best of the bunch, Sink Ships.
Given the song choice on this new collection, the omens look good for an artist that has clearly much still to prove.