So, you thought the last of the true song writers had vanished forever; you were convinced that blues went out of fashion and that there are no heroes anymore. Well, think again. Ryan Adams’ Gold is a crucial album to restore your faith in the music industry.
Perhaps people may be forgiven for thinking that all that is left nowadays are teenage singers who are bringing out records before they have even finished school and retiring on a tidy sum at the age of 19, but Gold reassures the disheartened music fan that there is a reason to blow the dust off that stereo and visit the chart section of the record store once again. Adams perfectly blends blues with country and flavours it with a vibrant edge to create an album that is almost guaranteed a place in the classic albums chart in every music magazine this millennium.
“Sylvia Plath” is a dark song where Adams recalls a hypothetical perfect day with the writer Sylvia Plath, as they both “sleep on a boat,” swim in the sea, and drink gin. It draws a fine line between a love song and an innocent fantasy. The song is accompanied by a heart-warming piano riff which reinforces the view that Adams is one of the most promising songwriters around at the moment. The song is more than just an emotionally charged tribute to Plath; it is an uplifting and tender track that is bound to pull at the strings of the most passive listener. On a similar level, the poignant “When the Stars Go Blue” is a truly remarkable track which reveals Adams’ ability to turn a comparably uncomplicated song into an enduring highlight on the album.
If the emotive tracks on the album highlight Adams ability to effortlessly conjure up potential timeless classics from bare chords and raw lyrics, then the more uptempo tracks such as the moving “Nobody Girl” and the rock n’ roll swagger of “Gonna Make Me Love You More” prove Adams’ roots in the blues-oriented alternative country rock genre. The elevating guitar on “New York New York” and the harrowing “Harder Now That It’s Over” allow Adams to successfully sit on the border between songwriter and storyteller, a place where Dylan once sat early in his career. It is songs such as “Enemy Fire” and “Tina Toledo’s Street Walking Blues” which authenticate the album to the extent that the listener may be surprised to read in the credits that the album was recorded in 2001, not the late ‘60s.
Gold is more than just a fortifying change from the trademark sound of the contemporary wave of guitar-based albums that are emerging. It is an inspiring album from start to finish, complemented with an unmistakable vintage sound and, of course, the most important thing, an impressive host of the finest, most original, and sincere songs written in a long time. Perhaps Gold will be a trend setter and Adams will open the door to many new up and coming blues-inspired Country Rock artists. Let’s hope so.
Written by Paul Newbold.
Want to ensure Opus’ continued existence and get special exclusives? Become a subscriber today. Your support helps offset the cost of running Opus.
I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.