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Ryan Adams: 'Easy Tiger'

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Singer, songwriter Ryan Adams has had a relatively quiet year. In 2005, he released three CDs, one of them a double disc. Last year, he produced a Willy Nelson album and toured extensively. This year, Adams is taking it a little easier. Meredith Ochs has a review of his first release of 2007. It's called "Easy Tiger."

(Soundbite of music)

MEREDITH OCHS: Most people move to New York City when they're ready to work and work hard. That's certainly true of Jacksonville, North Carolina, native Ryan Adams. He has released nine albums since he landed in Manhattan's East Village nearly a decade ago. More recently, he recorded more than a dozen albums of various genres to stream on his Web site. His ambition is evident on his new CD. Just listen to the layers of instrumentation, the optimistic lyrics and the way Adams pushes his vocals to reach new emotional heights on the opening track.

(Soundbite of song "Goodnight Rose")

Mr. RYAN ADAMS (Singer, songwriter): (Singing) And the sun will come up again. And I will be here. If you get scared just hold my hand. Tomorrow is yours, and who knows, maybe we'll win the whole she-bang. Goodnight Rose, goodnight, goodnight, Rose.

OCHS: Bryan Adams' new CD was accompanied by an announcement about his newfound sobriety. But he's still one of the few songwriters who can capture that rung-out, end-of-a-long-night feeling; when the world becomes a blur and you'd give anything to lay your head down for just a little while. This song, which features Sheryl Crow on harmonies, conveys that weariness from the guys who are yearning love songs.

(Soundbite of song "Two")

Mr. ADAMS: (Singing) If you take me back, back to your place, I'll try not to bother you. I promise. Cause it's colder here, and I wish it was hot. The sink's broke, it's leaking from the faucet. And I'm fractured from a fall and I wanna go home. Now it takes two and it used to take one. It takes two and it used to take only one.

OCHS: This new CD by Ryan Adams features an amalgam of the different musical styles he has presented in his previous albums - from weeping waltzes, to gentle bluegrass, to bombastic rock. But the Adams I like best is relationship-song Ryan, and I think it's these songs that will create his legacy. It's hard to write about love and longing without becoming sappy or lurid, but Adams has made a career at doing just that.

(Soundbite of song "Everybody Knows")

Mr. ADAMS: (Singing) You come for me in the worst of places. You come for me, you come and try to take me home.

OCHS: Songs like this one explore the aftermath of a busted affair with a certain elegance. Maybe, it's all that sophisticated New York living or maybe its just Adams - prolific and relentlessly creative, ever searching for a sublime, but simple turn of phrase.

(Soundbite of song "Everybody Knows")

Mr. ADAMS: (Singing) And everything's changing, how I am to know? How I'm going to hold on to you when I'm spinning out of control. You and I together, but only one of us in love. And everybody knows.

BLOCK: The music is from Ryan Adams. His new CD is called "Easy Tiger." Our critic is Meredith Ochs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Meredith Ochs