It’s easy to hate Ryan Adams. But it’s impossible to hate his music. Heartbreaker oozed with honesty, Gold exploded with melody, Demolition screams with potential, and his newest release, Rock N Roll does just what the name implies: it rocks.
According to Adams, Rock N Roll was conceived the day Lost Highway decided that Love is Hell was too moody to release. Ryan being Ryan, he drank away his troubles, met up with Johnny T, and decided to give the record executives something that is everything except moody. Out came Rock N Roll, the final bullet to the head of Whiskeytown.
Adams’ newest release is a trip through his record collection. You can hear U2 in the first single, “So Alive.” “Note to Self: Don’t Die” is the best song Nirvana could never write. “Anybody Wanna Take Me Home” takes a page out of Morrisey’s playbook. But should Adams be punished for wearing his influences on his sleeve?
Rock N Roll features Adams’ most intricate guitar work and showcases his ever-improving voice perfectly. The songs exhibit a new sense of attitude missing from Adams’ previous work. We always knew Adams was a braggart—now his music proves it. Ryan doesn’t shy away from responding the public through his songs either. “Note to self: don’t change for anyone,” he growls, responding to recent criticisms from both fans and critics alike.
While the album showcases a slew of guest performers such as Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day and Ryan’s current love, Parker Posey, they are neither a help nor hindrance to the songs. It is Adams’ record from the moment he says “Let me sing a song to you that’s never been sung before” in “This is It” (a tongue-in-cheek reference to The Strokes) to the album’s closing line “Los Angeles is dead” in “The Drugs Not Working.”
“Does anybody wanna take me home,” asks Ryan Adams. The answer is a resounding yes.