20 Signs of Life in 2002
Number 17 - Ryan Adams - Demolition
If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, Ryan Adams must be one of the slickest characters in music at the moment. His questionable approach to fan relations (kicking folks out of shows) and erratic social behavior (publicly throwing punches and proudly sporting his wounds) doesn’t exactly draw positive notices. Add to that his bloated artistic pride and you have an easy target for disdain. Adams would be completely ignored if his recordings weren’t so consistently excellent.
While his now defunct band Whiskeytown enjoyed critical success, only after Adams went solo did he gain true notoriety (for better and for worse). His two previous discs, Heartbreaker and Gold, displayed a gift for deft lyrics and winning hooks. But the work on Demolition ups the ante, showcasing his impassioned genius for rebranding strains of rootsy rock music. According to Adams, the disc was not meant to follow-up the lauded Gold, but rather represents the "best of" a larger collection of polished demo recordings planned for a box set. While the tale sounds apocryphal (the fully realized production of tracks like "Hallelujah" makes the album’s demo status questionable), the work itself is sublime.
While Demolition boasts a few choice rockers such as "Nuclear" and "Gimme a Sign," Adams’ gifts truly shine on the smoky, soulful tunes. Thanks to tracks like "You Will Always Be The Same," "Tomorrow," and the spare "Dear Chicago," this disc is likely to haunt your dreams for weeks.