Ryan Adams (Lost Highway)
Album of the week
For those who think that country-rock is all about the Dixie Chicks, Ryan Adams—former frontman of the alt-country band Whiskeytown—will have you whistling another tune. His impact on the pop scene has been swift. None other than Elton John, in the liner notes of his own new album, thanks Adams, “who inspired me to do better.” In fact this Jacksonville, N.C., native has struck Gold with his sophomore solo disc, which is easily one of the year’s best.
Throughout this 16-song set—which opens on one coast with the bustling “New York, New York” (no, not the Sinatra standard) and closes on another with the hushed ballad “Goodnight Hollywood Blvd.”—Adams, 27, shifts styles and moods with detailed sketches from his own life. The singer-songwriter is at his brooding best, though, on downbeat, down-tempo numbers like “La Cienega Just Smiled,” on which love “feels so good but damn it makes me hurt.” The pain is well worth it.
Bottom Line: Go for the Gold