Everyone knows those too-dip-to-be-doing-anything-else-but-be-hip types. They sing duets with Elton John, they’re pasted to the sides of buses in Gap commercials, they date gorgeous, indie-film stars named Parker Posey and they’re featured in MTV specials. They also force fans to leave concert halls when supercilious enthusiasts yell out the wrong name. That’s Ryan Adams for you, not to be confused with Bryan Adams, the Canadian-born singer with the radio hit “Summer of ’69” and that goofy “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” ballad.
Adams has consistently proven that he will be around for longer than it took for most to realize Bryan was Canadian. The demise of his former band Whiskeytown in 1997, thought to be the band to break Alt-Country into the mainstream, has led him to the forefront of a music scene that’s scratching nails along a chalkboard trying to find some originality. He has been credited with combining the likes of Springsteen, Echo and the Bunnymen and My Bloody Valentine into a coherent and oddly penetrating sound.
He broke ground with Heartbreaker in 2000, followed by Gold (2001) and Demolition (2002). However, his newly released Rock N Roll trumps a less groundbreaking tune. No more piercing lyrics to capture the soul, rather, just a little bit of rock and a little bit of roll. The lyrics from “Wish You Were Here” effectively capture the lackadaisical attitude of the album: “And if I could have it my way / We’d take some drugs / And we’d smile.”
This is Adams’ point. This album serves as a rock parody at most parts and a sad reminiscence of days gone by at others. A true musician can experiment with alter egos and still maintain his defining element. Adams brilliantly captures this very essence in Rock N Roll, proving that a little country now and then is not necessarily a bad thing.
[Monique Sherman doesn’t know what a Flaming Moe tastes like so stop asking. Okay?]