Ryan Adams is the lead singer and guitarist for Whiskeytown, a twangy alt country band, but after this taste of solo success, Whiskeytown may have seen its day.
As with most solo albums, Heartbreaker is a real departure, different from anything that Whiskeytown ever did. Leaving off the rockin' edge, Adams embraces the blues while still retaining his southern country influence. He brings in that all-embracing melancholy that causes me to push that repeat button.
One of the most beautiful songs on the album -- and in my weaker and more hyperbolic moments I have said, most beautiful songs ever -- is "In My Time of Need." It is a haunting story of a farming family's prayer for rain. The element of water threads its way all through the album (in "Damn Sam (I love a woman that rains)" and "Don't Ask For the Water") -- water as life giving and as feeling. But with "In My Time of Need" water also as community: "It ain't like it was back in those days/When everyone would offer up a hand/Will you comfort me in my time of need?" What is most striking to me is that the song's meaning is deeper and more encompassing than the farm and the land. It is a plea for community in a time lacking just that and is filled with the melancholy we all feel as self-obsessed, self-proclaimed individuals. In this way, Adams takes these beautiful songs and sentiments -- and often, misguided sadness -- and hits the heart. And with me, hits the top