Ryan reunites with his old band going double or nothing.
He's known as a wild man but he's married to a pop star. People still confuse him with Bryan Adams but he really is his own man. Ryan Adams name doest get lumped in with some of the greats but still the man has amassed an amazing, cohesive catalogue. Simply put Adams is one of the best singer/songwriters around today. From Whiskeytown to 'Cardinology'. The work speaks for itself.
After going solo for a limited edition and time with the great, heavy metal piece 'Orion'. Ryan reunites (sort of) with The Cardinals, for a dual, double disc effort entitled 'III/IV'. This may not actually be the reunion we think. This 21 track effort is a collection of records from the 'Easy Tiger' sessions. A Cardinals album that was billed as solo and definitely wasn't an album where the collective took it easy roaring with classics like 'Two Hearts', 'Off Broadway', 'Goodnight Rose' and 'Nobody Listens To Silence'.
These outtakes and B-sides are strong also proving these where A star sessions. It all begins with 'Breakdown Into The Resolve' an epic, trademark classic from the band showing us that we've missed Ryan Adams and The Cardinals. Deep lyrics like "Like a shadow in the light, stand up and be counted/I was born to be betrayed, its cleared that I'm clearly afraid of" delve into the singers soul. 'Dear Candy' follows and this sweet number could be a single. Another track where Ryan gets his teeth into relationship stories.
The uplifting and building track 'Ultraviolet Light' is as bright and epic as this albums artwork with Adams proving yet another catchy chant. There are pop friendly tracks like 'Kisses Start Wars' and 'Stop Playing With My Heart' which are so versatile that if they weren't so rock and roll Mandy Moore could sing them.
We've not even moved on to the second disc and there's genuinely good honest tracks like 'Wasteland' and 'Lovely And Blue'. You can also light a candle for the sickly sweet, but nice 'Happy Birthday', with it's corny but celebratory lyrics, "Happy Birthday, I'm Your Birthday Cake". In fact even if this album was just one disc, these b-sides would act as the perfect holiday gift, as 'III' feels like an album of it's own.
As does 'IV' the second disc. It only gets better from here. Is that true you ask? Well listen to the brilliant, upbeat, guitar twanging 'No' and try and say anything but yes. With the fast paced, kinetic 'Numbers' the singer and his band prove that with quality like this, over two discs they really can play the numerical game. Just like their previous double effort 'Cold Roses' the vast set feels so cohesive as one album spread over to two discs and twenty tracks. It's not over indulgence but underrated greatness. A true sign of greatness is how all whilst maintaining their signature sound the group are incredibly versatile as this rock and roll goes from Ryan's heavier side ('Icebreaker') to his more country roots ('Gracie').
Even when the songs get too dark like, 'Sewers At The Bottom Of The Wishing Well' or 'Death and Rats' the poignant depth is as potent as the moonlight. The band may sound like similar classic rock and roll but there not to be 'Typecast', just like the slower, deeper song of the same name. Plus the album cut 'Star Wars' feels like something that inspired this years L.P. 'Orion'. As 'III' and the two disc set comes to a close we hear 'My Favourite Song' and a 'P.S' but still the collectives collection really do save the best for last. The six minute, 'Kill The Lights' is an epic, city slicking classic. With a great four minute guitar solo to finish you can not deny the talents of The Cardinals or Ryan Adams. Truly brilliant.
As Ryan Adams and his Cardinals give us a body of great work it's hoped this release reunion isn't just one for the catalogues. 'III/IV' proves this group has strength in depth and a volume of great records that can stretch across several CD's. These sessions struck some brilliant sounds but it's now time we heard even more, new stories from those 'Jacksonville City Nights'. It would be a sin not to see some new music from this act. TIM DAVID HARVEY.