Alternative music reviews

September 25, 2006

Why I Hate…Ryan Adams

Filed under: ryan adams,why i hate — @ 11:10 pm Comments (0)

Ryan AdamsI had a tape in the car of a compilation of alt-country tracks. There were a few tracks I loved to distraction and needed to hear every day or two. Problem was that the fast-forward to the next track function didn’t work for this particular tape and meant I had to listen to everything on it. On it was Oh My Sweet Carolina by Ryan Adams and I grew to hate the song so much. Despite featuring Emmylou Harris, it just bored me with its slowness and refusal to go anywhere. Every second it droned on, it kept me from relishing in the glorious tale Resplendent by Bill Malonee. My journey to work was an hour long high speed dash through country lanes at the time and I took to holding down the fast forward button even though I really needed both hands on the wheel.

So, someone doesn’t like alt-country? Wrong, I love alt-country and this is one of the most countrified of Ryan Adams’ solo works. Add to this the fact that I love Whiskeytown and I love their lead singer’s voice and their songwriting. I love Pawn Shop Ain’t No Place For A Wedding Ring and Angels Are Messengers From God from Rural Free Delivery and they are just as slow-paced as Carolina. As I listen again to Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac I can regard Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight as a track that I can really relate to – it just about describes my adolescence, as well as just being a great song. Even the less country songs such as 16 Days and the magical Not Home Anymore are etched in my heart.

I remember buying his first solo album, Heartbreaker, in great excitement and listening again and again and finding nothing I liked there except the vestige of a voice. Eventually, the goodwill from all of the earlier songs in his previous incarnation wore off and I realised that I just found the whole record devoid of inspiration. Someone did buy me Rock N Roll as a Christmas present in the mistaken belief that I liked him and I did try again but I failed miserably with what sounded to me like a rock/pop album of studied mediocrity.

I just don’t get it. I am not so precious about alt-country as to get upset when someone changes direction towards Rock/Pop. But I seriously only hear a pale, vacuous imitation of his former self. At least when the story is written of how Aliens came to earth and replaced Ryan Adams with a Simulacrum, I will be able to say “I told you so”.