Ryan Adams and the Cardinals released their new record Cardinology this week. Ryan Adams has been quite prolific throughout his career, but he hadn’t officially released anything yet in 2008. Was Cardinology worth the wait?
In a word – YES. This is one hell of a band ladies and gentlemen, and this album feels like they have finally made their collective creative peace and gone for it – esp. guitarist/vocalist Neil Casal and Ryan. I’m a sucker for a great harmony, and these two really know how to sing together and are obviously sonically simpatico. They are also excellent guitarists in an understated, riffy sort of way, and the guitar work is about as solid as I’ve heard from anybody in a long time. The tradecraft learned while constantly touring really shows – listening to some of the tracks I get the feeling every pick stroke, every pickup mic setting is there for a reason. And the pedal steel played by John Graboff is as good as any you’ll hear anywhere.
I will admit that on first run through I was somewhat disappointed by the record because the songs themselves are less hooky and don’t all hang together as well as the previous RA albums I play so often. The catchiest songs are front loaded, and from there they really slow down and become less accessible till you get to a really raw piano only ballad “Stop” for the last track. But listening to the album a few times (esp on headphones) I at some point “got it”. Its a lot less about hooks than it is about making a really great band get everything they can out of every track. Thanks – applause.
That being said the single “Fix It” is right there in the pantheon of great Ryan Adams songs. The lyrics are genius. I automatically assumed at first that he was referring to “fixing” a broken relationship (life’s greatest cliche?), but what he’s really referring to is fixing the game of breaking up. Its dark and funny and personal all at the same time. And the song itself rocks – I found myself playing it on repeat more than once this week.
I know its not a game
but it feels like losing
when someone you love throws you away.
I’d fix it
if I could
and I’d always win (and you would always lose)
I’d always win in the end
Update: Someone from the Cardinals followed me on Twitter and just tweeted this sweet live acoustic show: