Lost Highway - 2002 - 45 minutes

'Demolition' is a best of with a difference, from alternative country's prolific Ryan Adams. These thirteen songs that Adams worked on from December 2000 and October 2001 - essentially between the albums 'Heartbreaker' and 'Gold' - have been released in demo form without any overdubs or retouches, just the tracks as they were originally laid down on tape. Although this was originally mooted for release as a four album box-set, fortunately someone had the sense to realise that quality and quantity do not necessarily go hand in hand, especially when the hands in question belong to Adams.

Recorded in Nashville, Hollywood and Sweden with a variety of collaborators, 'Demolition' veers wildly between the good, the bad and the downright derivative. Adams has always worn his influences on his sleeve and this time round he's been listening to early U2 ('Desire'), Leonard Cohen (the summery driftalong 'Jesus Don't Touch My Baby') and even Nick Drake (a softly plucked 'You Will Always Be The Same').

But he's still capable of writing songs that get under your skin and refuse to leave. On the AM rock of 'Hallelujah' and 'Starting to Hurt', piano-led backstabbing ballad 'Cry on Demand' and 'Tomorrow', where he harmonises with Gillian Welch, Adams' own talent is to the fore. Again, like 'Gold', these high points run the risk of getting lost amidst the songs that should have remained unreleased demos.

Better than it should be, 'Demolition' is still not as great as it could have been. Let's hope he knuckles down to a real album soon.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Nuclear - Hallelujah - You Will Always Be The Same - Desire - Cry On Demand - Starting To Hurt - She Wants To Play Hearts - Tennessee Sucks - Dear Chicago - Gimme A Sign - Tomorrow - Chin Up, Cheer Up - Jesus (Don't Touch My Baby)