The Conflicting Demons of Ryan Adams

[ 0 ] November 17, 2008 |

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Lost Highway Records


By Kevin C. Madigan

When he's good, he's great, and when he's bad, he's atrocious. The self-obsessed and over-prolific David Ryan Adams has already delivered 11 albums this decade, and there's a box set on the way, and even a book, Infinity Blues. The newly released Cardinology could be viewed as a microcosm of his career – woefully uneven, as a whole, but people seem to be interested in him, for better or worse, regardless of what he does. Perhaps he could be a little more discerning in his choices rather than churning out new product so often. In a recent blog, Adams referred to an “always awkward public who nameless and faceless will trash me no matter what my efforts.”

There are some distinctly trite lyrics here, particularly in the song “Magick:” "So turn the radio up loud and get down…let your body move/Let your body sway/Listen to the music play/It's magick, it's magick." Adams is capable of much better work than that. (What's with the silly spelling anyway? Leave that vacuous nonsense to Prince and his ilk).

On the other hand, “Sink Ships” is more like what we have come to expect from him (“A gray ghost prowls/In the back of my mind/While the sun is out”) as is the final track “Stop” in which he sings: "There is a darkness/And there is a light/And there is a choice for a balance to be made/Every night a weakness must be found.” It would behoove Mr. Adams to follow his own advice.

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