http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/f94349cdd3428c0cf26d692e7bbe67f7516ce94f.jpg Gold

Ryan Adams


Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
October 25, 2001

Ryan Adams writes songs and makes records like there's no tomorrow. Gold is just one of three albums the North Carolina-born former leader of Whiskeytown has completed in the past year. There's an LP's worth of Gold outtakes too, ten songs he pulled to get the album down to seventy minutes and a single CD.

Gold, Adams' major-label solo debut, is still a little too long. It's not until "Somehow, Someday," a third of the way in, that Adams catches up to his reputation as country noir's hurt king. With the barest narrative and a silver drizzle of guitars, Adams spills apologies and belated promises ("There ain't no way I'll ever stop from lovin' you now") with the concentrated immediacy of a guy singing to the door that just slammed in his face.

Adams' taste for haste can make you wince. The gentle distress of "Wild Flowers" is nearly undone by mashed metaphors ("windless breezes," "sleepless circus promenade"). But Adams' emotional directness and pathological fear of polish — imagine Morrissey and Keith Richards as the Glimmer Twins — give Gold's best moments the pow of late-breaking news: the twist of bitchy lyric vengeance in the haiku-Crazy Horse stomp "Enemy Fire," the obsessive need that cracks through his voice in the sweet floater "When the Stars Go Blue." Adams writes about the mess of love in shreds of detail: hints of comings and goings, references to clothes and addresses. He can be frustratingly inconclusive about who's doing what to whom. But Adams writes and rocks with a simple, effective magnetism. At nearly ten minutes, "Nobody Girl" is a mere slip of an idea that never dries up. The chorus is brief, harsh and addictive; the guitars roll on with slow, deliberate force. Adams didn't need to make the song that long; it's great to have this much of it.

Gold lacks the concise ache of Adams' indie solo prize from last year, Heartbreaker, but it is stronger on naked truth. In "Harder Now That It's Over," a messy tale of jealousy, gunplay and handcuffs co-written with Chris Stills, Adams sings with the straight, clear sorrow of a fool who beat doing hard time but sentenced himself to life alone. "I'm less than nothing now/I'm the one between the bars," he admits over whispered accordion and a slender stream of steel-guitar tears — an age-old story told be a young singer-songwriter wise enough to let his heart speak for itself.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

    More Song Stories entries »