Ever since his 2001 breakout, Ryan Adams has been a critical lightning rod and a PR disaster. From infamous onstage fits and a barrage of albums simultaneously prolific and scatterbrained, Adams's relationship with fame was bristly at best. Even the I-was-this-close-to-dying drug confessions that immediately pre-dated the release of this record seemed like a clumsy bid for Keith Richards-style rockitude. Critics and even frustrated fans all seemed to agree: the kid has talent, but he's very annoying. In this milieu, Adams drops EASY TIGER--his ninth record of the decade--with a title that suggests that he and everyone else should take a step back and reassess.
Fans will rejoice: EASY TIGER--recorded with his backing band, the Cardinals--is the closest Adams has sounded to the style on his excellent debut, HEARTBREAKER. His ADD genre approach is on display here--from the lazy, AMERICAN BEAUTY-style bluegrass of "Pearls on a String" to the full-roar power pop of "Halloweenhead" to the blue-eyed-soul duet with Sheryl Crow, "Two." The songs are tight and to the point; almost all are uniformly great; and all serve to bolster his case for "importance" as a songwriter that years of overt trying have failed to yield. Seems like "easy, tiger" is that successful approach Adams has been looking so hard for.
Spin (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "You get deep-twang country rock, fuzzy new-wave pop, a little old-school mountain music, and a handful of acoustic emo-folk ballads."
Entertainment Weekly (p.139) - "EASY TIGER keeps it simple: beguiling melodies, an ace band, and Adams' elastic tenor." -- Grade: A-
Uncut (p.114) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Adams appears more at ease in his own skin, soothing himself into these 13 songs rather than straining hard....EASY TIGER feels like a more assured follow-up to the countrified COLD ROSES."
Alternative Press (p.178) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Adams often finds himself revisiting past glories on EASY TIGER....A rather pleasing listen..."
CMJ (p.41) - "Backed by his trusty band, the Cardinals, Adams continues to touch hearts with woeful tales of love-gone-wrong."
No Depression (p.92) - "'Two Hearts' is as catchy a piece of country-rock as a Flying Burrito Brother could have imagined, and the execution is flawless."
Q (Magazine) (p.78) - Ranked #27 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2007" -- "[T]hese 14 compact, tuneful songs slip by with a deceptive, but pleasing ease."