Ryan Adams appears to have hit that most unexpected of grooves; the linear recording line. His previous three albums, like this collection of songs, have essentially been a group of uncomplicated, well-crafted songs. Oddly, whereas most artists would be praised for reaching a fine level of consistency, Ryan will have to face the criticism of being in something of a rut.
Despite its occasional charms, Easy Tiger_ feels like an uneven piece of work. A fairly disparate set of songs placed on record, as opposed to the coherent creation of a record in its purest sense. Fundamentally, this album contains three types of Adams songs; the upbeat indie rocker (‘Halloween Head’), the acoustic laments (‘Oh My God, Whatever, Etc’) and the country rock efforts (‘Tears of Gold_’) that is his preferred live vehicle.
From the outset, Easy Tiger sinks comfortably into the stereo and promises much. Opener ‘Goodnight Rose’ is a sweet affair, while the countrified lament of ‘Two_’, a song that features backing vocals by Sheryl Crow (better Crow than Tweedy at least), sweeps gracefully. The enjoyably preening indie rock of ‘Halloween Head’ is probably the best song on the record, but thereafter follows a rather dramatic mid-innings slump.
’Tears of Gold’ is a lazy lament and while ’The Sun Also Sets’ has a classic Adams chorus, its verse delivery and lyrics are cringe-inducing. ’Pearls On A String’ is merely throwaway fluff.
Things right themselves towards the end with ‘’Rip Off’ which sounds like one of the more haunting efforts from Love Is Hell and the fleet-footed ‘These Girls’. ’I Taught Myself How To Grow Old’ with its wheezing harmonica, echoing vocals and softly picked guitar is a suitably powerful ending a record, but it leads you to lament the lack of steady substance before it.
It’s ultimately all very frustrating but somehow still leaves you anticipating the next record even more; there’s just enough in there to hint that when Ryan Adams does break down whatever barriers are halting his progress right now, there’s great things to come.
Easy Tiger does reward with continued listens, but fails the final test of being neither a record you’ll cherish, nor a compulsive argument that this is the best Adams can offer. It might be the best he can offer at the moment, but that’s more reason to wish him swiftly onwards.
7Gareth Dobson's Score