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Issue 54 - A troubled troubadour

Whisky Magazine Issue 54
March 2006


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A troubled troubadour

Ryan Adams has produced a huge volume of great music. Lew Guthrie III casts his eye over it, particularly last year's Jacksonville City Nights

When Ryan Adams came crashing out of the American South he did so with the swagger of a guitar slinger and the talent of a troubled troubadour. Fearless, unpredictable and highly prolific, he's never made it easy for himself and we're all the better off as a result.

Take the name. He wasn't christened Ryan and he must have known using it publicly would have caused some confusion; and yet he's been known to evict leary hecklers for asking him to play Everything I Do (I Do It For You).

Rock music doesn't produce true left field rebels very often any more, which is why those of us who like our rock and roll dirty and unkempt cling to Shane MacGown and stand up for Pete Docherty.

But anyone can be a waster. To carry this stuff off you have to have charisma and a bucketful of talent. And boy, Ryan Adams has both – and then some.

He set out his agenda years back when he named his band Whiskeytown, and started producing country-tinged rock songs that have their roots in the music of Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash and have been distilled through bands such as Green On Red, the Long Ryders, Rain Parade and more recently Son Volt.

Adams is the nearest thing we've got to a new Neil Young, and his output swings from unaccompanied gentle acoustic sets to hard hitting rock-outs. In the harrowing two part collection Love Is Hell he even gave us a modern answer to Young's Tonight's the Night.

Unlike Young, though, Adams has had the fast forward button pressed down firmly ever since he ...

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