Lost Highway – 2001 – 57 minutes
For a while it looked like 'Pneumonia' was going to turn into one of the those legendary lost albums. Recorded by the alt-country band Whiskeytown before their demise in 1999, it remained in record-label limbo for three years. Now it's out and on the shelves of your record shop, was it worth waiting for? The answer has to be a resounding yes.
Built around the Whiskeytown core trio of Ryan Adams (guitar/vocals), multi-instrumentalist Mike Daly and fiddle-player Caitlin Cary, 'Pneumonia' seems more like a solo effort by Adams than a band album proper. More polished and less emotional than last year's 'Heartbreaker' (Adam's official debut solo album), there's much to treasure on 'Pneumonia'.
The theme of home – leaving, homesickness, returning – runs throughout. In 'Jacksonville Skyline' Adams talks about being born on "the dirt roads" of an old fashioned American country town and moving on "soon as I turned sixteen"; the plaintive country twang of 'My Hometown' contains dreams of his homeplace; in the penultimate track 'Easy Hearts', he's still yearning for this place: "you move away when you're young/they take away where you're from".
But it's not all about nostalgia – there's upbeat power-pop in 'Crazy About You' and optimistic harmonies on 'Don't Be Sad'. Influences like Springsteen, Dylan and Parsons are all evident but so too are The Beatles and Jellyfish. A fine farewell from a great band.
Tracklisting: Ballad of Carol Lynn - Don't Wanna Know Why - Jacksonville Skyline - Reason To Lie - Don't Be Sad - Sit And Listen To The Rain - Under Your Breath - Mirror Mirror - Paper Moon - What The Devil Wanted - Crazy About You - My Hometown - Easy Hearts - Bar Lights