First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2003, Volume 10, #3
Written by John Metzger
Leave it to Ryan Adams — the most prolific songwriter working today — to create an album full of demos that sounds like quite the opposite. Since releasing his breakthrough outing Gold, Adams reportedly has recorded enough material to fill four or five discs, and from this, thirteen tracks were culled to create Demolition. Many critics are using this outing as an opportunity to bash Adams — partly as backlash for the success of Gold and partly because the term "demo" generally refers to collections of unpolished leftovers marketed mainly for commercial gain. The truth, however, is that Gold was a terrific album that deserved its time in the limelight, and Demolition — as amazing as it may seem — is slightly better. Indeed, one is left wondering if these journalists even bothered to listen to the album at all, for if they had, they would have found a superb songwriter at the top of his game.
Granted, Demolition is a more understated affair than is typical for Adams — only the incredibly infectious Nuclear, the bass-driven Starting to Hurt, and the crunchy chords and jangly guitar of Gimme a Sign push beyond singer-songwriter fare into rock territory, and these admittedly are the weaker tracks. As for the rest of the album, its songs build upon the beauty of Adams’ first solo outing Heartbreaker, but here he further perfects his knack at writing melodies that stick with you long after they’ve stopped creeping through your speakers. Hallelujah is breezily uplifting with its acoustic guitar bounce, soaring pedal steel, and a harmonica accompaniment reminiscent of Neil Young; She Want to Play Hearts and Dear Chicago ache with loneliness and heartache; Chin Up, Cheer Up is a flawlessly buoyant country romp; and Cry on Demand builds upon a basic guitar and piano duet, while Desire crosses U2 with Bob Dylan, and in both cases, the results are uncannily radiant, yet haunting.
As was the situation with Gold, Adams still hasn’t created his ultimate masterpiece. He still revels a bit too much within the music of his heroes instead of finding his own unique voice. Nevertheless, when he does borrow a riff, a chord progression, or a style, he uses it effectively, and since rock ’n‘ roll is largely an amalgamation of everything else anyway, this is hardly a nit worth picking. Suffice it to say that Adams’ proficiency is more blessing than curse for his talent is seemingly immeasurable.
Demolition is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box