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Prolific Adams on a roll

Ryan Adams“Follow The Lights”

After releasing three albums in 2005, this was another strong year for singer/songwriter Ryan Adams. Over the period of 12 months, he released the critically acclaimed “Easy Tiger,” completed a stint in rehab and found himself featured in just about every music magazine on the shelf. So how to end the year on a positive note? How about with “Follow the Lights,” another batch of excellent material that extends his reputation as one of the music scene’s most gifted artists.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ryan Adams’ work, his laidback style sits somewhere between the romantic lull of James Taylor and the gritty edge of acoustic Neil Young. There’s also just a touch of an alt-country vibe and Dire Straits cool thrown in for good measure. One thing is for certain: Ryan Adams should not be pigeonholed as a country artist.

“Follow The Lights” is a seven-track EP that plays out more like a full-length CD. It’s only 32-minutes in length, but the quality of the songs makes it a worthwhile investment. The CD is billed to Adams and his longtime backing band, The Cardinals, and it’s a match made in heaven. The band perfectly complements Adams voice and brings the right amount of sheen to his compositions.

The first two songs, “Follow the Lights” and “My Love Is For Real,” were written for the ABC drama “October Road” and exemplify Adams’ pensive style. “Blue Hotel” was originally penned for Willie Nelson, and Adams gets a chance to roll out his own excellent take on the song.

“If I Am a Stranger” and “Dear John” are live studio recordings from Adams’ catalog, and both songs work well within the framework of the other material. “Dear John” originally featured Norah Jones on harmony vocals, so it’s great to hear a solo performance backed by The Cardinals. Perhaps even more interesting is a cover of “Down in a Hole,” a song originally performed by Jerry Cantrell and Alice in Chains. It’s surprising how similar the two voices are, despite the vast differences between the two musicians.

If you haven’t discovered Ryan Adams – it’s time. If you dove into his past releases, “Follow the Lights” is the next logical step.

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