It’s hard to peg Ryan Adams. Is he some sort of musical genius, or just some guy who doesn’t know when to stop? In 2005 he released three albums of varying styles and quality (Cold Roses was the best of the bunch, while Jacksonville City Nights was decent and 29 was a dreary mess), so it seems he took 2006 as a break from recording, seriously anyway. So here we are in 2007 with Easy Tiger, his ninth studio album.
Easy Tiger plays like a ‘best of’ at times, running through all the various styles of Adams’ previous outings. “Goodnight Rose” could be from Gold; “Halloweenhead” from Rock N Roll, “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.” from Heartbreaker, “Off Broadway” from Love is Hell, and so on and so forth. There’s a track here representing everything this guy has done. And while this album plays to Adams’ strengths, it’s slightly uneven jumping from style to style, but it’s nevertheless a captivating album.
The thing with Ryan Adams is that he’s a gifted songwriter, able to toss off a handful of songs in no time. The problem is he tosses off a handful of songs in no time. The tossed-off feel to these songs are, for the most part, beneficial and part of Adams’ charm. There’s no way he spent more than an afternoon writing a song like “Halloweenhead”. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. “Halloweenhead” is one of the album’s strongest tracks: anthemic and loose, fast-paced and catchy. So just think if he spent more time crafting these tracks he could release masterpiece after masterpiece.
Lyrically though, Adams has always been mature (when he feels like it), despite his behavior in the media, but here he seems to be singing like he means it and finally truly believes his words. There’s a nervousness and wisdom to his voice as he sings “We are only one push from the nest / we are only one moment from death” on the outstanding “The Sun Also Sets”.
Adams’ may not explore any new ground on Easy Tiger, but he seems to be roping himself in a little. These 13 tracks clock in at just under 40 minutes, it’s his most concise release since he’s 2000 debut, Heartbreaker and it’s his best record since the dual release of Rock N Roll and Love is Hell.