on June 29, 2007
Easy Tiger is a lilting and beautiful country-ish record that solidifies Ryan Adams's position as the premier songwriter of his generation. It is one of his most polished works, which may not seem like good thing (no one ever complained that Exile on Main Street needed more polish); but his newfound sobriety brings with it a maturity and discipline that, believe it or not, he wears well. At 38 minutes, the record seems to end too soon- a welcome respite in the digital age-- and in my book when you want to go back and play the thing all over again, that is generally a very good sign.
Meanwhile the Cardinals continue to evolve and solidify as one of the best bands around. Neil Casal's guitar is piercing and articulate; Jon Graboff's pedal steel provides a lot of the feel and color. Every member of the band save for Adams and drummer Brad Pemberton has turned over since Cold Roses (2005), and yet they keep getting better and tighter, as their live shows continue to demonstrate. While the feminine presence of former bassist Catherine Popper is missed in the vocal mix, Chris Feinstein manages to push the Cardinals musical chemistry forward on his first record with the band.
The waltzes "Goodnight Rose" and "Tears of Gold" harken back to the country sounds of Jacksonville City Nights; either song would fit seamlessly on that record. "Two," which Adams has been playing live for 18 months, is done as a duet with Sheryl Crow, a Cardinals fan who's voice melds in a pretty way with his. Like a lot of Adams's best songs, this one manages with simple language to capture the pure hurt of love; "It takes two, when it used to take only one..."
"Halloween Head" is a little anomalous here, done as a punkish garage rocker; what keeps it from being jarring is the insane catchiness of it. "Pearls On a String," yet another beautiful song, contains lines that nicely sum up Adams's prolific output: "Tomorrow's on it's way/ And there's always new songs to sing."
Adams and the Cardinals have been touring to support this record as an acoustic 6-piece, with producer Jamie Candiloro on piano and Adams putting his guitar aside (hand trouble.) The acoustic treatment brings out the richness in this material, the timelessness of the compositions. For those of us who grew up with artists like Neil Young, Van Morrison, and the Band, and who still treasure the classic records these artists made, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals are a contemporary treasure.
on June 27, 2007
Adams catches grief no matter what he does. The same people who chastise him for being too odd, erratic and/or unpredictable will slam him the next time around for playing it safe and/or being too mainstream. Thankfully, the man just writes and records what's in his heart.
EASY TIGER is clearly Ryan's most impressive work to date. I never thought he'd top LOVE IS HELL (Parts 1 & 2), but he's really done it this time. The songs are amazingly well-crafted and his voice is in great form.
Highlights for me are TWO, EVERYBODY KNOWS, RIP OFF, PEARLS ON A STRING and THESE GIRLS. To be honest, there's not a bad track on the disc. Sure, HALLOWEEN HEAD is a bit weird - but it's so damn catchy and well-written, you can't help but catch the hook.
There is something for everybody here - lush productions, sparse piano and voice, bluegrass-flavored acoustic guitar and nice harmonies. Taken as a whole, it's a release that will take a long time to find it's way out of your CD player or off of your iPod playlist.
on February 6, 2012
Disclaimer: the stars awarded are a reflection of the quality of the product, not the music.
The picture on Amazon is not of the package you would receive. The picture on Amazon is of the CD cover, not the vinyl for sale. The Vinyl for sale is a plastic sleeve with a paper insert of someone wearing a mask.The picture implies a gatefold cover (like all the other Ryan Adams albums), but the record that showed up at my door was a flimsy orange disk (on a scale of 1-10, sound quality is a 6-7) in a clear plastic pouch whose side seams had already worn out and, therefore, was useless. I would have given 3 stars if I wasn't mislead by the picture. I would have given 4-5 if the record weighed anything and had better sound quality. I really expected more from Adams. All his other albums come in great packages with terrific-quality records. Not this one.
As for the music: It's nowhere near a Heartbreaker, Love is Hell, or Gold, but there are a few really great tracks and a handful of damn good ones. The guy is a brilliant songwriter (See 'These Girls', easily one of his career's best) with an increasingly annoying tendency towards pop rock with lyrics that become silly with irony (See 'Halloween Head'). On a Ryan Adams scale of 1 (Cardinology) to 10 (Heartbreaker), this is a 6.5, on a general music scale of 1 (Rebecca Black) to 10 (Heartbreaker) it's an 8.5-9.
on August 26, 2007
When I first listened to Easy Tiger, I though it was over-produced and, as a fellow reviewer noted, awesome by normal radio standards but average for Ryan Adams. Then, I did two things to gain some perspective on the album. I went to see Ryan live in promotion of this album and I read the one page expose on Easy Tiger's production in Rolling Stone. Ryan belted out a number of tunes form this album at the show and they sounded incredible. I popped the album back into my player and gave it a few more listens. Just like with JCN, this album grew on me immensely. It -is- a bit over-produced, but Ryan's vocal phrasings and the Cardinals' melodic hooks put it leagues above any other 'heavily produced' top 40/rock album. The lyrics are incredible (as always) and seem more interesting after hearing about the singer's travails in the RS story. This album is definitely not as loose at the last three, but it is still the Cardinals and still has that seventies acoustic rock vibe. As to a previous reviewer's comment that listeners wouldn't find themselves humming any tunes off this album, I can't get the cheesy, butt-rock influenced, drug rocker Halloween Head out of my head. It is really becoming a problem... :)
on July 5, 2007
Heartbreaker had such an impact on many of us that it has been difficult to accept Adams's later works. Despite a love for Whiskeytown songs, Heartbreaker instantly blew us away. There are definite gems in Adams's post Heartbreaker catalog. Gold and Love is Hell Pt. 1 were solid efforts. However, many maintain a Heartbreaker bias when checking out Adams's new works. Adams has the ability to bang out a number of Heartbreakers, but chooses to let his own style develop wherever he feels like exploring. Lost Highway is an excellent label that backs Adams's endeavors. Easy Tiger is a manifestation of Adams's past, present, and future. He pushes the envelope with his voice and writing. The Cardinals (Ryan's band) do a great job of balancing the adventurous efforts to create some fantastic colorful mixtures.
When I first hit play my reaction was, "Who's singing on this?" I flipped through trying to ignore the initial Heartbreaker expectations, and was taken aback during the first go around. There were new sounds, characteristic elements that have found new territory, some vintage Adams, and a variety that had everything but the kitchen sink. This left my a bit confused as I tried to formulate my opinion of the work. After a few more rounds, I still couldn't make a definitive decision about the adventurous album. That is until I found myself craving a few tracks like "Two Hearts", "Halloweenhead", "The Sun Also Sets", and "Goodnight Rose". Adams's work always deserves respect because of the ingenuity and fearlessness that he applies when making his records. However, that doesn't always translate to fans enjoying certain albums. As I gradually found myself looking forward to a growing number of Easy Tiger songs, I realized that this record carried a certain weight to it that Gold, Rock n Roll, and Jacksonville City Nights didn't have. The exploratory styles, stabilizing instrumentation, and the standard brilliant lyrics that make up Easy Tiger have a sense of validity and unique panache that can't be found anywhere else. This album will not instantly knock you over the head or bump out one of your top ten favorites like Heartbreaker did, but it will win you over. Easy Tiger posses some very addictive songs and is a one of a kind album that will be fun to revisit for years.
Here are some disclaimers so you won't be so alarmed. The most notable aspect that differentiates this album is Adams's vocals. He is definitely making a statement of versatility, audacity, and enjoyment. There is a lot of Neil Young and at times even Jeff Buckley in Ryan's voice. A lot of the vocals resemble the voice Adams uses on certain Whiskeytown tracks (ie "Reasons to Lie") and he applies that sound to some varied and at times extreme situations. Do not be alarmed because despite the initial skepticism the vocals really fit well with the songs. The vocals create an endearing element to the lyrics and give the tracks so much raw character.
The album has some Heartbreaker in it with songs like "Oh my God, Whatever, etc.", "These Girls", and "Off Broadway". That helps counterbalance the raw adventure that some other songs take you on like "Halloweenhead". There are some finite stylistic tracks like "Pearls on a String" which is an unmistakable bluegrass jolt. The music of the whole album does a fantastic job of balancing and highlighting Easy Tiger's bold elements. The Cardinals really help make this album. The instrumentation adds an expanding effect to songs like "Goodnight Rose" and "Halloweenhead". The arrangements also add swagger, necessary characteristics, and a full bodied sound to songs like "Tears of Gold", "Two Hearts", and The Sun Also Sets". The music creates such a delicious musical statement when paired with Adams's overall creative vision.
This album may be Heartbreaker's rebellious teenage lovechild but is an absolute gem of a record. Cheers to Adams for pushing the envelope and putting his unique stamp on it. It takes balls to explore uncharted territory and try to maintain your exclusive touch. Adams has not only done that with this record, but has done it while having to maintain a reputation.
on September 23, 2014
The idea of an orange vinyl copy of Easy Tiger sounds good, but the quality control was lacking on this release. LP was not cut correctly in pressing and the edge of the vinyl 'bleeds over' the normal edge of the record causing the disc not to spin correctly. The extra edging would hit the arm rest on my turntable and screw up the disc rotation. I had to get scissors and trim the disc down to make it playable. Additionally the clear plastic jacket is already tearing along the sides :-/ I guess this was intended more as a collectable than an actual playable record.
Solid music here, just reviewing the physical vinyl product.
on June 26, 2007
First off, I'm giving this 5 stars to bring the rating up after the Bryan Adams jackass gave it 1 star.
I think it deserves 4/4.5.
This is a very GOOD album.
Is it his best? In my opinion, no.
But who cares?...it's another strong album, as expected.
I'm more of a Whiskeytown/Heartbreaker/Jacksonville fan of Ryan's, so I'm happy with the folky, "alt-country" songs like "Oh My God...", "Pearls on a String" and "These Girls."
I must have listened to "Pearls on a String" 20 times by now.
Rockers like "Goodnight Rose", "Everybody Knows" and "Rip Off" echo the Cold Roses album, which was his strongest album in years.
The problem is, when I don't like a Ryan Adams song, I absolutely HATE it.
This album has a couple that I hate and then maybe 2 more that I already started skipping over (but that usually changes with time).
I was also hoping for some "jammier" versions of certain songs and was very surprised to see that 12 of the 13 songs are under 4 minutes long.
Bottom line, just like with Cold Roses, this album has a little bit of everything for the varied fanbase of Ryan's.
Buy it, listen to it and keep wonderin how the hell he makes gold year after year.
on July 1, 2007
Yes, it is his most polished work since Gold, but so what? Gold was probably the album that attracted alot of his current fanbase, and this album should spread that fanbase.
So for the album itself - If you like Adam's past work, each song from this album could have easily been pulled from each of the previous albums. The feel of the album is like that of Gold. Heavily produced, but still evoking emotion. If you are into the sad/angry stuff, this one is a little more upbeat and even.
I'm reading some reviews knocking this album for being "sellout-ish, soft rock, pure commercialism" etc., but give me a break. Adams has shown many times that he is going to put out albums that please HIM - often to the frustration of his record label. It may be time to get some radio play or at least pick up some more of the general population. I know those of us who enjoy Adam's music would love to have him keep putting out albums that will never attract the attention of anyone except ourselves and those we share them with....but if the goal of a music lover is to share that music with others, then this album makes the task of sharing Adam's music easier on us.
on April 4, 2014
This album is great, and I am very happy with it overall. However, the record is a bit warped, and the sleeve that the vinyl fits in to was pretty much worthless upon delivery. It had holes on three of four sides, which means the record has trouble staying in there when not in use.
on January 12, 2016
The music is 5-stars. Ryan Adams is a God. But I can only assume PAXAM hasn't even seen this pressing.
The value of the product itself is garbage. 0 stars. I'm not really upset about the plastic sleeve, in theory... but it's so poorly executed. Good luck ever getting the paper insert out of the plastic sleeve, at least not without creasing the insert. It has almost no clearance in the sleeve, and of course, static makes it stick to the plastic. Then on top of that there's no real way to get the record out without touching the grooves, at least a little, which is just ridiculous, again due to static cling and tight clearance.
But worst of all is just the quality of the vinyl. The record weighs in at 116g. Does it sound worse because it's thinner? Probably not. But it sure feels cheap as hell flopping around in your hand. I like to feel like I'm getting my money's worth, and this just doesn't feel that way.