12/13/2010

This Bird Should Fly Again


RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS
III/IV

[Lost Highway-2010]

Ah, Murphy’s Law: we knew the moment we'd post our year-end wrap up there would be an album we'd overlooked; or one released at the last minute that would rock our world but consequently not make our list of faves. This one happens to be the latter. Damn you, Ryan Adams and your Cardinals!

Considering these 22 tunes(!) are from the sessions that begat Easy Tiger [Lost Highway-2007] it’s quite baffling they’ve been shelved for the last few years, unless this was somehow tied to Adams' decision to quit the Cardinals, or the plan all along was to eventually release them at a later date. Then again, knowing as we do how prolific Adams is, and how it must be analogous to having root canal surgery for him not to share his songs with an adoring public, we shouldn't be too surprised to see them finally surface. (Lest we forget, Adams released 11 studio albums during the past decade. Yes, eleven.)

As for the current double platter itself, if you are of the faction that enjoys Adams’ alt-country leanings but have more of a hankering for his rock and roll exploits—namely, um, Rock n Roll [Lost Highway-2003] and Cardinology [Lost Highway-2008]—then Santa has just left you an early Christmas present. The head Cardinal and his mates are in full-on rock mode here and despite the common quality control pitfalls of a double album, Adams amply succeeds in putting together a batch of rockin’ tunes that may not reach the greatest of heights but do coalesce into a consistent album; arguably one of his best.

It seems utterly lame to label this double album as ‘all killer, no filler’--close enough, actually--but that’s what happens when a ridiculously good record comes your way. And III/IV does not let up. If this is truly the last we've heard from the Cardinals, their final bow has been quite the farewell.

Highlights: Plenty, but “Wasteland”, “Ultraviolet Light”, “Happy Birthday”, “No”, “Numbers” (is that the Mrs. doing harmonies, Ryan?), “Star Wars”, “My Favorite Song”, “P.S.”, and "Death and Rats" all stand out.

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