red lights

Burning Hot and Bright

Ryan Adams - Gold
(Lost Highway)
4 Stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: January 5, 2002

Ryan Adams

By Tony Bonyata

Opening his major label debut Gold with a spirited love song to New York City and closing it with a fragile number that bids goodnight to Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard, six-string troubadour Ryan Adams takes us on a musical road trip through, not only our own backroads, but his own inner self.
Once the lead singer and guitarist for the North Carolina-based alt-country band Whiskeytown, Adams has now secured his place as a solo artist to reckoned with. With the spirit of artists like Dylan, Neil Young and Van Morrison pumping through the tracks on Gold, Adams proves to be one of the most engaging American artists to emerge in recent years.
"I'll always be thinking of you, I'll always love you though, New York," he warmly cries on "New York, New York." And while this song may have been recorded briefly before September 11th, it's release soon after couldn't have been better timed. With an upbeat, positive rhythm, happy, jangling guitars and a breathy Hammond B-3 organ, this number sounds as if it could be the soundtrack for the spirit of the American people since the attacks. And if that's not enough to get your patriot blood pumping, then his cover art, which features a bed-headed Adams in front of an American flag might just help do the trick.
The album, with a wealth of emotional peaks and valleys, is highly textured with touching ballads and sonnets ("Sylvia Plath," "Hollywood Blvd." and "Wildflowers"), hip country-fried tracks(the Van Morrison-inspired "Answering Bell" and the heartaching "When The Stars Go Blue") and gritty roadhouse rockers ("Enemy Fire" and "Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues" which invokes the dirty southern funk of The Stones in exile and The Black Crowes at a whiskey-soaked barbecue.)
As Adams explodes into the jaunting "Firecracker," he admits that while, "everybody wants to go forever," he would rather "burn up hard and bright." For the moment, this young, talented artist is cutting like a road flare on a foggy highway, and if he's capable of more albums like this one, then he just may go on forever.

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