Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Music Decade List #20: Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger (2007)

After some highly conceptualized releases before it (the Deadsy Cold Roses, the country of Jacksonville City Nights), Easy Tiger was seen by some to a return to the form of Heartbreaker, in that Adams pares and combines his influences into one concise album. The album can also be seen as a more broad, commercially aiming record after the increasingly insular and niche albums that made up Adams's 2005 trio. Easy Tiger was definitely a grower for me, as further listens brushed the "too commercial" feeling I had about it at the beginning and now, it has become a record I go back to time and time again. Never being as big of a believer in Heartbreaker as legend has made it, I would take the songs here over a lot on that album. Like I said above, the album feels like a mix of the various albums that Adams had covered over the previous part of the decade: 'Goodnight Rose' wouldn't feel out of place on Cold Roses (especially when listening to the jammier live versions), 'Pearls on a String' could come from Jacksonville City Nights, even something like 'I Taught Myself How to Grow Old' could be on 29. Perhaps why I've come to like Easy Tiger so much is that you can pick a little bit out of every other Adams album and say "Yes, this song could be on ___". With that being said, it still works together because it feels like the strongest set of songs Adams put on record maybe ever. Nothing sounds meandering of like filler. I could live without 'Two' or 'Everybody Knows', the two most obvious hand-outs to radio, even though they have some merit. I'll take the acoustic numbers, definitely the strongest since Heartbreaker. 'These Girls' and 'Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.' are really exceptional songs. And even though this is titled as a Adams solo release it does feature the Cardinals lineup with Neal Casal, who I will argue makes a huge difference in Adams transformation as a live performer. With Adams, it seems to make a significant improvement in his recorded output using the same performers on every track. It may not be a great record to some, but Easy Tiger earned its place on this list with repeated listening.

(Author's note: The author of this post often spends too much time listening, pouring over, and analyzing the catalog of Ryan Adams. Be prepared for a dissertation-level write up of Cold Roses later on in this decade list.)

No comments: