Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Music Decade List #8: Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Cold Roses (2005)

Everything about Cold Roses, down to the album cover, has the imprint of the Grateful Dead running through. That's not to say that everything on the albums sounds like the Dead, there's still a lot of country influenced songs that Adams was doing before. Whether or not they had a direct influence on the material here, there's no escaping some similarities. There are more obvious examples of this influence, as 'Magnolia Mountain', 'Easy Plateau', and the title track have the type of tempo and guitar running through that wouldn't sound out of place in any of the Dead's early 70s work. What is most important to the quality of the album is that Adams is clearly trying to make a band record over a solo one. The type of collaborative effort that a band oriented record takes seems to have focused Adams on making a solid return to the material that first got him attention. Cold Roses also contributed to Adams cleaning up his act, playing some underrated shows with Phil Lesh, and focusing on being a live act with a slightly different lineup of Cardinals than present here.

Of course I'm going to be biased towards the material that skews towards the Dead-like material as the whole second disc wears much more of its influence. The first disc is a little weaker with filler material like 'Beautiful Sorta'. Still, there are some classic sounding Adams like 'Sweet Illusions' and 'How Do You Keep Love Alive'. The second disc shows Adams and the Cardinals veering into jamming territory, as 'Easy Plateau' and 'Cold Roses' demonstrate. This wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the Cardinals, who seem to have mellowed out Adams a bit and allow for this new direction. It would an understatement to say how the band had a positive on Adams, who up until Cold Roses, had lost some of luster for me. This album was a welcome return to what I like best about Adams and it has done nothing but made his subsequent work just as interesting.

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