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Audio CD, September 5, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

With a touch of Robyn Hitchcock in his vocal timbre, a smidgen of Steve Earle in his narratives and instrumental writing, and a heap of Gram Parsons in the fullness of his overall sound and structure, Ryan Adams steps well above Whiskeytown with Heartbreaker, his solo debut. By turns raucous, wistful, raspy, and simply sweet, Adams makes the most of a top-shelf acoustic band, including Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and even a guest spot from Emmylou Harris on the tenderly yearning "Oh My Sweet Caroline." There's little dependence on the usual alt-country twang and a far more rounded sense of textures here (the multiple vocal tracks on "Amy," for example, sound Beatles-esque), with glockenspiel, organ, and more signaling a sonic field of extensive depth. His spare guitar and stretched-thin vocal delivery alternate smartly with a bigger-shouldered guitar and throaty voice, never leaving behind a band conception straight out of Parsons's oeuvre. Adams signals occupancy of the post-alt-country vanguard--if there is such a thing. --Andy Bartlett

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. (Argument With David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey)
  2. To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
  3. My Winding Wheel
  4. AMY
  5. Oh My Sweet Carolina
  6. Bartering Lines
  7. Call Me On Your Way Back Home
  8. Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)
  9. Come Pick Me Up
  10. To Be The One
  11. Why Do They Leave?
  12. Shakedown On 9th Street
  13. Don't Ask For The Water
  14. In My Time Of Need
  15. Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 5, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bloodshot Records
  • ASIN: B00004XSKU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,251 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Manny Hernandez HALL OF FAME on October 22, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I thought "Love is Hell, Pt. 1" was Ryan Adams' best musical accomplishment. I was wrong. That production, as phenomenal as it was, doesn't come close to the level he reached in "Heartbreaker", his first album after he left Whiskeytown. Perhaps I have a weakness for nu-folk and alt-country these days, but I admit I have been possessed by Heartbreaker. "AMY" is a great example of why. It brings Elliott Smith right back to mind, and other momemnts in the album remind me of Dylan and Cash as well. Overstatement? Say what you want, but Ryan Adams' solo debut is one of the most solid albums in the past five years.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By mymurkyworld on September 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I saw Whiskeytown live in London a couple of years ago. The set, in a bar venue, finished with Ryan alone on stage with acoustic guitar singing "Avenues" from "Strangers Almanac", it was absolutely electric, you could have heard a pin drop in the place, a real hairs-stood-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck experience. So news of a Ryan Adams solo album was exciting indeed, and obviously I was hoping for more potential "Avenues" moments. So does "Heartbreaker" deliver? Well, yes, up to a point, but you do get the feeling he's running as if in the semi, not in the final! The reason I don't think this is the full 5 star classic we all know Ryan has in him is that some of the songs, such as "To Be The One", ramble on in a fairly shapeless manner, virtually grinding to a halt in places, and punctuated by some Dylanesque harmonica that can be a bit jarring. There has been a shift in focus in the songwriting, away from the Replacements and REM influences that were evident on "Strangers Almanac" towards Dylan, the Band and Steve Earle, and of course the ghost of Gram Parsons is still pulling quite a few strings. There are though enough good songs here to make it very much worth the price of admission. The start off track "To Be Young" is a terrific up-tempo number, "My Winding Wheel" has a hint of Paul Westerberg (compare this to "It's A Wonderful Lie" from the last Westerberg solo) and, rather curiously, calls to mind "Wonderwall" by Oasis. "Call Me On Your Way Back Home" could well be the song to provide me with my "Avenues" moment next time I see Ryan live. So if you particularly liked the quieter songs on "Strangers Almanac" then you will undoubtedly like this, but we know there's more in the tank! (PS A comment of significance to English readers only - As an English person and former resident of Manchester, how weird is it to hear Ryan discussing our beloved Morrissey at the start of this? What next, an analysis of the best front two for United?!!)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on October 5, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Ryan Adams's solo album trumps anything he's released with his band Whiskeytown to date. "Heartbreaker" has stronger songs, better arrangements and better songwriting than anything Adams has previously recorded. On the accoustic song "Damn Sam (I Love a Woman that Rains)," Adams is a dead ringer for classic mid-60s Bob Dylan (albiet with a much better voice). In fact, most of the highlights on the album are the slower accoustic numbers like "Oh My Sweet Carolina," (with Emmylou Harris) "Come Pick Me Up" and "In My Time of Need." The anthemic "To Be Young (is to be Sad, is to be High)" is also first rate and makes a great rallying cry for the younger generation. The album does feature a couple of clunkers, particularly to rocking but bland "Shakedown on 9th Street" that keep it from being a full five star effort. But it also marks Adams as a potential major star about to break through to the big time.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Starhead on September 5, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Ryan Adams is as unpredictable on CD as he is in life. When I saw him perform solo in SF last year I left thinking that this was the next great American songwriter, but that he probably wouldn't live into his 30's. He's fragile & exposed & probably heavily medicated, but he can generate a single line that is so beautiful, sad and true that it almost stops your heart. I guess that's why the album is called Heartbreaker. I hope it's not cause the guys got a huge ego... Anyway, this album reflects all that I've written so far. I give it 4 stars because I think he will pull together one of the classic albums of all time one day, and I'm saving 5 for that kind of a record. This one is filled with great moments that are never quite stitched together. Maybe I'll see the connections in time, who knows? He's backed by David Rawlings & Gillian Welch, but unfortunately these two VERY talented musicians don't add much to the project. As much as I love David Rawling's work I'd rather just have a true solo project. Warning: there are definite flaws in the quality of recording. The volume level changes dramatically as he apparently was backing away from and leaning into the mic. Nothing was done to fix this or the sometimes piercing harmonica parts. But then, you came for the songs, right?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Ryan Adams is the former singer/songwriter for Whiskeytown. That band's swan song "Pneumonia" was finally released after two years of delays, and now that I've heard it, I get "Heartbreaker". "Heartbreaker" was recorded after but released before "Pneumonia", and "Pneumonia" shows exactly how Ryan was evolving as a songwriter and how he got to "Heartbreaker". This is a beautiful, understated country-folk record. There are a few excellent barn-burners to mix things up, but at its soul, it is a quiet record of love, confusion and loss. Adams is quite simply the most compelling songwriter to emerge in the past 10 years. He lays his heart on his sleeve but never sounds corny and always manages to pull you into his world. I love this album, and I can't wait to hear more from Ryan Adams, with or without Whiskeytown.
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