Lonesome Highway – 2001 – 70 minutes
Crossing the US from the Big Apple (the philosophical and Who-indebted 'New York, New York') to Los Angeles (piano-led downbeat sadness of album closer 'Good night Hollywood Blvd'), the prolific Ryan Adams wheels out his second album, 'Gold'. Formerly the lynchpin of the much-lauded alternative country band Whiskeytown, Adams released his solo debut 'Heartbreaker' last October. 'Gold' is a step away from the naked emotion of that album, which Adams admits was written and recorded during a particularly bad time in his life, but it is still chock-full of tear-jerkers. From the fragile simplicity of 'When the Stars Go Blue' to the bruised pathos on 'Harder Now that it's Over', Adams has a take on sadness that cuts straight to the chase.
But 'Gold' is not just tears and lamentations. Adams plunders a range of influences from soul, blues and gospel music ('The Rescue Blues', 'Touch, Feel and Lose') to classic Rolling Stones (the boozy swagger of 'Tina Toledos Street Walking Blues'). He also turns to literature, singing of his infatuation with the suicidal American poet, Sylvia Plath on the song of the same name.
Undeniably talented, Adams is also somewhat over-indulgent. Originally intended to be a double album, 'Gold' is still 70 minutes long and could have done with some judicious editing before release. As it stands, the high points are diluted by a handful of unmemorable songs. With a little more concentration and quality control, Ryan Adams will be capable of producing a truly great album. Until then, 'Gold' is good enough to be going along with.
Tracklisting: New York, New York - Firecracker - Answering Bell - Le Cinega Just Smiled - Rescue Blues - Somehow Someday - When the Stars Go Blue - Nobody Girl - Sylvia Plath - Enemy Fire - Gonna Make You Love Me - Wild Flowers - Harder Now that it's Over – Touch, Feel and Lose - Tina Toledos Street Walking Blues - Good Night Hollywood Blvd.