Let me sing a song for you/That's never been sung before: Those are the first words out of Ryan Adams' mouth in "This Is It," the opening song here — and he delivers them in a strip-mined yelp that is one hundred percent Paul Westerberg. Adams plainly does not suffer from fear of contradiction. But what is the point of calling a record Rock N Roll (which is how the title reads when you hold the cover up to a mirror) if you can't flash some roots and crank up the homage? The best bullets here are like excerpts from a fantasy mix tape of classic glam and garage rock. "Shallow" starts with Adams playing a near-twin of the chicken-peck guitar riff in T. Rex's "Bang a Gong (Get It On)." "1974" is a glitter-y goose step, the Rolling Stones' "If You Can't Rock Me" in Kiss makeup. And in the quick, raw "Note to Self: Don't Die," Adams pins Nirvana-style verses to a chorus that shakes like his friend Jesse Malin's old band, mascara punks D Generation. In one way, Rock N Roll reeks of rush job. Adams hustled this record to life after scrapping his original "next" LP, Love Is Hell, and there are loose threads hanging everywhere: daffy metaphors, the sheer laziness of a line such as "It's all a bunch of shit" ("Wish You Were Here"). But Adams has never let good grammar get in the way of a better song, and here he is obsessively focused on things that truly matter: his favorite bands, killer hooks, the meaty, rude guitars he plays all over the place. Rock N Roll is exactly what he says it is. Dance with confidence.
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