As much of a return to his country roots as Cold Roses was, Ryan Adams has gone even further in his exploration of those roots with the release of this album. Equal parts Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, and Merle Haggard, Adams has released the first great "classic" country album of the 21st century. I will say that it took a few listens before sinking in, there was a bit of waffling on my part before recognizing this.
Only a misguided duet with Norah Jones ("Dear John") keeps this from being a 5 star album. While not a bad idea, the two spend half the song trying to find a way to mesh their remarkably distinctive voices together. By the time they do, you just don't care anymore and are looking forward to the next song.
Whether you like swinging country standards ("A Kiss Before I Go"), plaintive wails to one's hometown ("The End" - who puts a song with this title as the second track?), blue-collar anthems ("The Hardest Part"), pleas to God ("Peaceful Valley"), covering one's own self ("My Heart is Broken," which appeared originally on Theme for a Trucker by his former band, Whiskeytown), or dark songs about the death of one's parents ("PA" - my personal favorite), you will find something to love here.
Originally reviewed on www.rateyourmusic.com