Ryan Adams is an artist who could be one of the all-time greats if he’d just stop making so much damn music. This guy writes a new song every hour of every day… which is fine, except he puts them all out on CDs. If you go to the store and pick up a new Ryan Adams release, the odds are pretty good that another Ryan Adams album will be released before you get back home.
So I have mostly given up on following his career closely — it would involve way too much time and money. But he has released two albums that I consider true classics. The first is Gold, which features the hits ‘New York, New York’ and ‘When the Stars Go Blue’ and brought him to national attention. The other, and better of the two, is Heartbreaker, his solo debut.
Heartbreaker is filled with soulful country and blues songs with a few rockers thrown into the mix. There isn’t a weak song on it and most of them sound like something you swear you’ve heard before, because how could a melody that sweet go undiscovered for that long?
‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ is maybe the most beautiful song on the album, a wistful ballad about missing the simplicity of home. The narrator sings of time spent exploring the country, coming up empty.
building news print boats I raced to sewer mains
Up here in the city it feels like things are closin’ in
The sunset’s just my light bulb burnin’ out
I miss Kentucky and I miss my family
All the sweetest winds, they blow across the south.
Emmylou Harris provides achingly gorgeous backing vocals (something she does quite often, I’ve noticed) and the acoustic guitar/piano accompaniment makes you want to just curl up and cry.