"Nuclear" is an electric romp that gets things started, earmarked by Adams' gruff, straight-out-of-bed vocals and an ultra catchy three-minute chorus. The triumphant pop pleasures of "Hallelujah" make me wonder how this one ever got left off Heartbreaker or Gold. The haunting pace of "Desire" recalls Joshua Tree-era U2, even though the youthful Ryan Adams was but 12 years old when that frat-rock classic was produced. Without question, the North Carolina native had to be grooming his future skills even as far back as the mid-1980s, since that same period is clearly evident on "Starting to Hurt," as the bass line intro spills right off a Pixies record.
The cranked up guitar rockers are not necessarily his forte, but Adams delivers "Gimme a Sign" with all the garage band vigor of The Replacements via Pleased to Meet Me. Conversely, it's the intoxicating ballads on Demolition that tend to shine the brightest. The intermittent piano that breathes chilling life through "Cry on Demand" will make even a novice want to! Still a bluesy ballad like "Tennessee Sucks" works well and further exemplifies Adams' vocal and guitar-playing range and diversity.
The best thing about Ryan Adams (aside from the fact that he sparkles during an otherwise dismal period for his genre) is that as strong as his first few albums have been, his very best work could still be ahead of him. At 27, he's already formed a noteworthy band (Whiskeytown), split it up to pursue his solo work, kicked out three great albums (with a fourth due out early next year!), and seemingly whipped his long-standing stage fright to become an accomplished live force. Make way for the next legendary singer/songwriter, I say. The Ryan Adams era is already upon us.
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