Ryan Adams third release of 2005 yes, third is stuffed with atmospheric meanderings and often minimalist tunes. Though slightly removed from his alt-country roots, 29 sometimes recalls Adams previous Love is Hell. The opener, Twenty Nine, however, is a rehashing of Grateful Deads Truckin and is the only shit-kickin country-rock song on the album. Elsewhere, Adams offers contemporary blues vocals with aplomb; though Starlite Diner and Voices will convince the listener that he hired a vocal coach. The Sadness is confusing, though it could sound track a good drunken night in a Mexican border town. The discs centerpiece, Nightbirds, is a simplistic and somewhat typical Adams piano ballad thats intensified with echo and reverb; the scenic imagery and atmospheric guitar swells make it the most rewarding four minutes here. 29 is the manifestation of an overworked artist more or less a dusty box of old demos, reworked. Its the final chapter in Adams back-to-his-roots releases, and though the album lacks uniformity, its got real beauty. Its Adams best release all year.
Dustin Walsh writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].