Quick Review (LP): Jacksonville City Nights by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams
Jacksonville City Nights
Lost Highway; 2005

My Rating: B+ (76/100)

Best Tracks: "A Kiss Before I Go", "Dear John", "The Hardest Part", "Silver Bullets", "Peaceful Valley"

A little more lovely, a lot more twangy.

NOTES

  • For a guy who got pigeon-holed as an alt-country twang-rocker early on in his solo career, this is his twangiest effort by far.
  • Plenty of solid tracks here. Benefits a lot from the pedal steel + violin arrangements.
  • Tracks like "A Kiss Before I Go" and "My Heart Is Broken" fit the cosmic american music moniker well. Gram would be proud.
  • Lovely themes abound. "Peaceful Valley" is gorgeous.
  • There’s a few memorable tracks here, but only a few. The rest of the album sort of passes by in a pretty stupor.
  • It’s not his best, but it is one his better records. There’s life right through it, even when it threatens to get a little drab, as Adams as wont to do. I’m guessing The Cardinals were to thank for that?
  • AMG:  "[I]t’s still hard not to shake the suspicion that Ryan Adams is primarily a pastiche artist, since it’s not only easy to spot influences throughout the album, but because the atmosphere of the record makes more of an impression than the individual songs." Spot on, but I don’t give him a hard time about the atmosphere. It’s one of my favorite things about Adams’ work, something he seems to get better than most alt-country artists, and something that separates him from the pack. Remember Nashville Skyline? “Girl from the North Country”, “Lay Lady Lay”? It’s a nostalgic wash, this.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Nashville Skyline
Columbia; 1969

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: "To Be Alone With You", "Girl from the North Country", "Lay Lady Lay", "Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You", "Country Pie"

Bobby goes south in search of a warm bed.

NOTES
– The updated version of "Girl from the North Country" is a great moment for so many reasons. Of course, it’s a lovely duet with the Man in Black himself, which is enough to make it a classic alone. At the same time though, it’s a sort of farewell to the iconic Dylan, the closing credits for the rebel without a cause, the reprise of the film’s harrowing overture. Of course, there would be sequels to Dylan’s first act, but nothing was ever as great as that first act as a whole.
– His voice does sound awful nice here compared to the first eight albums. Almost sounds like a different person.
– "Rest" is a big theme here. Even the opening track, which in its original setting was more about leaving the girl behind, sounds dream like, as if he’s coming home to her.
– This one’s not so different from John Wesley Harding, but it is certainly more oriented towards the popular country music of the time than the cross-eyed folk found on the former.
– I kinda wonder if there was some sort of folk-celebrity interplay going on between Dylan and Simon at this time, since "Lay Lady Lay" and "The Boxer" (both big singles in 1969) have such similar choruses lyrically. Of course, Dylan "covered" "The Boxer" on his next release…
– This is a wonderful warm record. Personally, I’m a fan of the domesticated Dylan, and though I do think New Morning is better, this one is a strong record nonetheless.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)