Picks and Pans Review: Ryan Adams

UPDATED 01/16/2006 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/16/2006 at 01:00 AM EST

29
ALT-COUNTRY

If anyone deserves to kick back on a beach for a nice long vacation this winter, it's Ryan Adams. The alt-country crooner released 29, his third recording of 2005, in December, following May's double disc Cold Roses and September's Jacksonville City Nights. While those previous efforts were recorded with the backup band the Cardinals, this CD puts Adams back in an intimate singer-songwriter setting that lets him indulge his mood to brood. The album reunites him with producer Ethan Johns, who was also behind the boards for what are arguably Adams's best solo works, his 2000 post-Whiskeytown debut, Heartbreaker, and its 2001 follow-up, Gold. In particular, 29 evokes the beautiful ache of Heartbreaker with wistful ballads like “Blue Sky Blues,” on which Adams pensively asks, “Blue sky, when you gonna learn to rain?” In a nice bit of sequencing, that tune is followed by “Carolina Rain,” a twangy story song on which Adams confesses that “I met your sister and I married her in July/ But if only to be closer to you, Caroline.” With sweet longing like this, 29 adds up to another fine effort in Adams's ever-expanding catalog.

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