http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/a72ef6ac3254701f7131df6c2d5c6bbf740b1a3c.jpg Love Is Hell Part 2

Ryan Adams

Love Is Hell Part 2

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Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
January 6, 2004

Adams shows he can still do gentle, understated tunes somewhere inside the mind of Ryan Adams, far away from the twitchy extroversion he's currently selling via his new album, Rock N Roll, a humble troubadour still writes little songs. They're not all stunners — some of the character sketches on his second Love Is Hell EP (the first was released in November) are bona fide corn, such as the maudlin McCartney-esque "Thank You Louise." But Adams is a craftsman, and on the image-rich Pt. 2, he's taken lyrics he might have otherwise discarded and inflated them into pure romantic reverie, surrounding the vocals with gentle, understated music. "My Blue Manhattan" is a piano-based Tin Pan Alley thing sung with echoes of Leonard Cohen; "I See Monsters" is dreamlike and vaguely psychedelic, a disconsolate tangle of emotion. Cynics might say the prickly star is using these EPs to atone for his previous excesses, but that doesn't change what's in the music: seven riveting explorations that don't sound like anything else in his songbook.

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