Photo of a Cyprepedium Chamberlainianum from The Orchid Review magazine, July 1922
So I thought Love Is Hell would be a great place for me to start with Ryan Adams' solo work (after a successful foray into Whiskeytown earlier this year). It's not the obvious "go-to" Adams album, but it has an interesting concept (create a "mope-rock" album a la the Smiths produced by seminal UK producer John Porter). And it has an equally interesting story to go with it (his label declined to release it as an album, so Adams released it as two EPs to positive buzz, causing the label to then release it as an album, pissing off the loyal fans who'd bought the EPs).
It's an impressive album, and the Smiths-style sad-jangle is a good match for Ryans' writing style - with "This House Is Not For Sale" he provides the perfect iteration of the formula, but the album also has a couple OK-Computer-aping numbers to start things off ("Political Scientist", "Afraid Not Scared"), an inspired cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall", and a couple Paul Westerberg homages ("English Girls Approximately", "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home") without coming across as a just series of impressive musical impressions. A couple songs have weak chorus hooks that let them down (the title track and "World War 24") and most of the songs are slightly too long, making the 16-track album seem bloated, but no single section of the album lags noticeably. I don't think I'll get the same results if I continue down the road of Ryan Adams' genre-exercise albums, but I'm in a good position to give his mainstream favorites like Heartbreaker an honest listen now that he's made a favorable impression.
"This House Is Not For Sale" by Ryan Adams