CD Review of Gold by Ryan Adams

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Released: 2001
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Sometimes everything is just as it should be. Sometimes a record is so perfectly and appropriately titled, and its release date is so timely, that you wonder if a higher rock and roll power really does exist.

How wonderfully ironic that Ryan Adams' new release, Gold, was issued two weeks to the date after the terrorist attacks on America, and that the album cover features Adams in a tattered old patriotic football jersey standing in front of a giant American flag. Surely the album art and release date were a mere coincidence, as it requires months for such planning and production, not to mention the time that goes into writing and recording the songs. Yet, again, the irony abounds as the opening track is the stunning "New York, New York" (NOT the Sinatra classic!). So the stage is set for an absolute classic record here…but awards have never been given for potential alone.

Gold is, however, the finest unknown record to be released this year, a polished gem in every way! The giddy pop brilliance of "New York, New York" will remind you of Bob Dylan's best work. The jangling guitar and heartfelt vocals continue right into "Firecracker," as Adams pleads, "I just wanna burn up hard and bright / I just wanna be your firecracker / And maybe be your baby tonight." It's this non-engaging simplicity that weaves its way throughout Gold and pulls a collection of classic driving tunes together as a coherent and unshakeable classic.

"Somehow, Someday" will take fans of Adams back to his previous work with Whiskeytown. His silky, unproduced voice stands as an unmistakable force on "The Rescue Blues" as Adams experiments perfectly by blending in a gospel choir and Benmont Tench's organ to craft a beauty! Gold is not a hard rocker by any means. Instead, it succeeds with its stripped down, acoustic guitars that back up beautifully written tales of love and disappointment, triumph and loss. At one point, Ryan Adams states, "I wish we were still making plans / But now there's nothing to fix." Indeed, this grand project needs no fixing!

~Red Rocker