A little over a year ago, Ryan Adams released his first solo album, Heartbreaker -- and it blew my mind. I must have driven my neighbors crazy, listening to that damn thing day in and day out. I couldn't help myself; it was just so good. There were some powerful tunes on there -- songs of inordinate beauty, songs reaching out to my heart, to my soul. It made my top 10 list of the year; in fact, it was my number one. I have waited this whole year in hopes of another Heartbreaker, another moody crooner to get me through the winter.
Gold. By name alone it aspires to be much, a title almost too confident for my tastes, but in execution it aspires to be even more than that. Each song seems to have a different sound. The album starts with some amazing pop songs, "New York, New York," undoubtedly the hit of the album, is so catchy, so bright, so bold -- a sound we are not used to coming from him. But this doesn't last. He changes his style, his vocal affectation, just as Bowie did costumes in the Ziggy years. At times he is Dylan in the Nashville Skyline era, at times The Stones, at times Cat Power, at times Jimmy Dale Gilmore -- periodically his own voice peeks in and shines for a moment before the costume change comes again. There are some great songs on this album where Ryan Adams' genius comes through, and when that happens you realize what that man is capable of, like "Nobody Girl," like "The Rescue Blues," like "La Cienega Just Smiled." He has it; he just needs to grow into his sound, narrow down the scope a bit.
I should learn my lesson and not eagerly await anything -- the anticipation, the expectation is bound to diminish the actual. And yes, I'll admit that even though the last song with a string section that sounds like it just left the can had me feeling a little cheated, I still leaned over and pressed that play button again.