Friday, December 16, 2005 ... 8:40 PM
Boney's Anachronistic Best of 2005, part two
3) Cold Roses, & Jacksonville City Nights, Ryan Adams (Lost Highway)
I've bought into the buzz around Ryan Adams this year, but I'm burnt out on it. Fans and press have tripped over themselves to slaughter the fatted calf for Ryan's return to twang, but I think that come the morning light, a lot of copies of Jacksonville City Nights will start bobbing up in the used bins. So many of the vocal performances on this record are just bad -- and not bad in a sustainably interesting way, but bad in a way that suggests to me a conversation like this:
Engineer: Eeesh. That was, uh ...
Producer: I know. It takes him six or seven takes to warm up. Roll back to zero.
Ryan (in the tracking room): All right, good enough. Next.
Engineer: Oh fuck, is he kidding?
Producer (over intercom): Yeah Ryan. That was pretty good. Let's get a few more, so we have some options in the mix.
Ryan: I said we're moving on. I wanna get out of here and get some sushi.
Still, I wonder how I'd feel about this record if it didn't include "Peaceful Valley." It's a plane wreck of a song, and its failure taints everything around it, destabilizes the record's entire dimension, like that jet engine in Donnie Darko. But I've harped on this enough. Clearly I'm the one missing something. I'd love for someone to convince me that my $15.00 was spent well.
I did, though, get plenty of mileage out of Cold Roses. I listened to it enough in the few months after its release to put it on my Best Of. It's purple Kool-Aid made with too much water: a diluted but pleasant enough summer refreshment. Good choruses, hooks and instrumental vamps are frequently stretched beyond their elasticity. The title track is a good example. A couple few tunes snap tightly and satisfying. Or one does, anyway. "Let It Ride," the blatant single -- meaning that it's blatantly good. You can just listen to it. The band gives an economical performance that's also deeply felt, bruised and moody and driving wobbily as if from a fight in which it got its ass walloped. It's solid country rock. (Also, any tune featuring a guitar hook bent by a Bigby and drenched in reverb has a leg up on winning me over. See the Sadies, and their work on Neko's Blacklisted.) Other tracks that still feel overdrawn, but manage to stand up above the rest: "Cherry Lane," "Sweet Illusion," "Beautiful Sorta." I'll listen to this record again next summer. Jacksonville City Nights, probably not.
Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"
Flop Eared Mule
The Celestial Monochord
Dig and Be Dug in Return
Modern Acoustic Magazine / Blog
The Old, Weird America
Honey, Where You Been So Long?
The Greensboro Review
Fried Chicken and Coffee
Mungo (This was the blog of my friend, the late Cami Park. Miss you, Cami.)
Cat and Girl
Film Freak Central