Album Review: Cardinology by Ryan Adams

This album sounds like a soundtrack to an American teen drama, you know, the ones where beautiful people in their twenties play teenagers with issues and there are lots of lingering moody close ups and sunset shots set to ‘atmospheric’ music.  And as much as you would love to not watch them, the people are so pretty, the sun shining so brightly and the storylines so banally compulsive that every Sunday morning you treat a throbbing hung-over head with a large dose of Yank materialism.
The same goes for this album. Each track drips with sentimental alt-country that on first listen sounds about as exciting as a dinner date with John Virgo on a heavy dose of Nitol. But give it time and Adams draws you in, cajoles you into sitting back, makes you want to get some issues, resolve them and then lie back on a beach with a girl so implausibly beautiful that you just know, at some point, the shit will hit the fan.
This may be a long way from the pure class of Gold, and is light years from the skill and delicate touch that covered Wonderwall, but it is by no means the write-off I originally labelled it as. On Magik, Adams enjoyably rediscovers his mojo, be it in a slightly clichéd fashion, and bonus track Color of Pain is indeed a bonus, showing Adams can still do proper acoustic music.  But the highlights are spread too thinly, there is too much filler and no quality control. Like the teen dramas it apes, there are basically a couple of main points of interest revolving around a lot of filler to make a series.
All in all, Adams fans will love it, they always do. But for everyone else the quality is too sporadic to justify a purchase.

Words: Jon Severs

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