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'Cardinals III / IV,' Ryan Adams 

If you're not a Ryan Adams superfan, pass on this album.

click to enlarge Ryan Adams
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The main problem with Ryan Adams is the sheer volume of his work. He rarely holds anything back. While that might do wonders for personal catharsis, it doesn’t bode well for the overall quality of his work. The double album Cardinals III / IV, pieced together from the leftovers of 2007’s Easy Tiger, is an unfortunate example of Adams’ excess. Though the album contains some high- quality songs, like the fist-pumping “Wasteland” or the sweetly sweeping “Dear Candy,” the Springsteen-influenced ‘80s arena rock is more bloated than brilliant, resembling Brandon Flowers’ derivative work on Sam’s Town more than anything the Boss might have green-lit.

Laced with synthesizers and juvenile, almost teenage lyrics, Cardinals III / IV is an exercise in tolerance — Adams aficionados are going to slog through it anyway (though perhaps reluctantly), but fair-weather fans would be better served skipping it altogether.

DOWNLOAD: “Lovely and Blue”

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