Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Ryan Adams: 29
Another gem from the singer-songwriter who clearly never sleeps
Away from his band, The Cardinals, Adams has stripped most of ‘29’’s tracks down to spare, brittle bones. The title track is a rambling, electric blues, full of “Mystery pills and heroin mixed into cocaine”, while ‘Strawberry Wine’ – the first of a trio of spectacular ballads – charts a couple’s slow, sweet descent into alcoholism and despair. ‘Nightbirds’, another tale of ruinous abuse, is so fragile that Adams’ own soft, tremulous voice eventually causes it to collapse in on itself.
Of course, there are misfires too. ‘The Sadness’ is an unwanted, clattering racket and ‘Voices’ is a biblical analogy too far with unwelcome echoes of Radiohead, but it’s pushed right to the end, so, y’know, who cares? Is Adams arrogant? Possibly. But, quite honestly, wouldn’t you be?
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