This morning I was awakened by two things–the light through the crack in my shades and a deep desire for Ryan Adams. I rose before my alarm, dressed, brushed my teeth, washed my eager ears, and set off to be the first to buy Easy Tiger at Target. I think I was the first, and I hope to God I’m not the last.
Adams is often criticised for an inability to self edit, both personally and musically. While I don’t know about the personal issue, I do agree that if Adams was a novelist, he’d have far too many chapters in his books. Both when 2003’s Love is Hell and when 2005’s Cold Roses were released, I got the distinct feeling that Adams was more concerned with number of discs he release than the continuous quality of those songs. Don’t get me wrong, I love both albums, but they could have stood for some snips and cuts. Then again, I prefer literature that is sparse and to the point–Dickinson seems to me more palatable than Dickens.
This being said, Easy Tiger does not suffer from the oft-plaguing lack of editing present in Adam’s previous work. Every song of this 13 track album flows, fits, and flirts with the beauty of love and the depression of failiure. Gone are the honky-tonk drinking ditties of Jacksonville City Nights, gone, for the most part, too are the epic swells of Cold Roses. In their place are more matured, folk-founded acoustic sets reminiscent of Demolition, even Heartbreaker. Adams’ knack for startlingly beautiful melodies and riffs, so spotty on his last 4 albums are front and center on Easy Tiger.
Adams is still sad on this album, but his discontent seems less driven by the immediacy of romantic heartbreak and more from adeep metaphysical yearnings; at times, like on ‘Two,’ Adams seems downright religious, with lines like: “I’m broken from the fall, and I wanna go home.” When he does decide to leave his loneliness and rock out, like on ‘Halloween Head’ (where there is a perfectly placed “guitar solo!” shouted from the bridge), it is every bit as good as Cold Roses (and far better than Rock n Roll). But Adams seems less intent to ‘let it ride’ on this album, and more content to swim in the melodic sea of his best album in years.