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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Love is Hell: one of the most solid albums of the past five years.
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...
Published on October 22, 2005 by Manny Hernandez

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and enjoyable, but incomplete
A peculiar album. I've listened to it so many times by now, I feel I know when he's about to breathe, I can tell where the fingers squeak across guitar strings, and I feel I understand the lyrics more. The tunes are incredible, each having that special something, and the level of musicianship shows marked improvement over the Whiskeytown catalog (I sure wish he'd let...
Published on November 28, 2000


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Love is Hell: one of the most solid albums of the past five years., October 22, 2005
This review is from: Heartbreaker (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the price of admission, but we know there's more!, September 29, 2000
This review is from: Heartbreaker (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
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars for an excellent effort, October 5, 2000
This review is from: Heartbreaker (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Americana is alive and well..., September 5, 2000
By 
This review is from: Heartbreaker (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Can Mr. Adams Do No Wrong?, May 24, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Heartbreaker (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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stripped Bare, September 6, 2000
By 
Jeffrey K. Guild (Pompano Beach, FL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Heartbreaker (Audio CD)
Ryan Adams, songwriter and volatile primary member of the Alt. Country group Whiskeytown, has ventured off on a solo project. The theme seems to be exposing the raw emotions that at times threaten to overwhelm him--as illustrated in "Why Do They Leave?" and the ironic "Come Pick me Up"--and you as the listener may feel like an intruder. The music is passionate, and his uncanny ability to paint word pictures to express that passion put him among the top songwriters/poets of the genre. At times Dylanesque, Adams' songs on Heartbreaker are more thoughtful and introspective than much of his previous work with Whiskeytown. Highlights include "To Be Young," perhaps the most upbeat of the songs, "Oh My Sweet Carolina," a duet with Emmylou Harris, and the somber "Bartering Lines." A must-buy for Whiskeytown and Alt. Country fans. The only way this album could be better would be if the production quality were more consistent--the vocal levels tend to wander in a few songs. A fabulous solo debut, but you can't dance to it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aptly titled, September 25, 2002
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This review is from: Heartbreaker (Audio CD)
Heartbreak has spawned some of the best albums ever. This is a well known fact - when the artist in question pours all his or her emotion into the songs, looking for a way to sort things out and bring closure to whatever happened, it really tends to show. When this honest emotional intensity is put onto a record and paired with wonderful lyrics, then you have something special indeed. And this is the recipe that has produced Ryan Adams' "Heartbreaker". The debut album from the former Whiskeytown frontman chronicles the dissolution of a relationship and the emptiness and directionlessness that often accompany it. You can hear this in Adams' pining for his "sweet home Carolina", and in lyrics like "I feel just like a map / without a single place to go of interest" (from the fantastic "Winding Wheel"). And I dare you not to have your heart broken by the album's centrepiece "Come Pick Me Up", in which Adams concedes that even though the relationship ended in a lot of pain, he'd do it all over again: "I wish you would come pick me up / Take me out / Steal My Records / Screw all my friends". The music, which traverses folk, pop, and rock with a country twinge, is perfect: bare bones acoustic guitars parallel the honest emotion in the lyrics. I think that for many songwriters, there is a brief window when talent, vision, and songwriting all come into line. With "Heartbreaker", Ryan Adams has found that window. This album should be treasured for years to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood on the Dirt Road, September 5, 2000
This review is from: Heartbreaker (Audio CD)
Wow...I wasn't sure what to expect from this CD. I really like Whiskeytown, but I was hoping that this would offer something different to that sound. I was not disappointed despite my skeptism. This is clearly NOT a Whiskeytown album, but it may certainly appeal to the Whiskeytown fans. Sparse at times, this album gave me the feel of a small town kid's innocense being forced to come to terms with life in a city, which can be merciless. "Oh My Sweet Carolina" is a prime example of this innocense lost, but not forgotten. "My Winding Wheel" is a stand-out cut and one of my personal favorites. The instrumentation is somewhat sparse, but it highlights both the lyrical content and Ryan Adam's persona.
If you are a fan of Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" or Neil Young's "On the Beach", this will appeal to you, even if it's unrealistic to compare this one to those classics. Ryan Adams is a truly undiscovered talent, and it's a crime that he is not a rich man, both from this album and his work with Whiskeytown, one of the best American bands out there. Give it a listen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different mood than 'Gold', January 30, 2002
This review is from: Heartbreaker (Audio CD)
After buying 'Gold' this fall and having a religious experience at a Ryan Adams show in Minneapolis, I knew I needed to get anything this guy laid his name to. After buying 'Heartbreaker,' I still feel the same way.
To me, 'Gold' was the perfect album to rock out to, beer(s) in hand, reveling in the "who-cares-but-it-feels-like-good-rock-and-roll" production. 'Heartbreaker' is decidedly different. True, it opens with the definitely rollicking 'To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)' and contains the equally incendiary 'Shakedown on 9th Street,' but the remainder of the album is a beautiful, slow walk though carefully strummed guitars, soft basslines, rich pianos, and wonderful harmonies. A duet with Emmylou Harris on 'Oh My Sweet Carolina' is worth the price of the album itself. And don't miss his Dylanesque turn on 'Damn, Sam (I love a woman that rains).'
So while 'Gold' may want you make you turn up the stereo and dance, 'Heartbreaker' is best suited for a dark quiet evening, a comfortable chair, and a pair of headphones. Beer optional.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very laid back, but wonderful!, September 6, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Heartbreaker (Audio CD)
If you're looking for Whiskeytown-esque rock 'n' roll, you won't find (much of) it here. There are only a couple of "electric" tunes...the rest are quiet, very personal tunes. Shades of Gram Parsons and even some Bob Dylan. Great guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, Kim Richey, and Gillian Welch. Ryan Adams shows that there's much more to him than the rock 'n' roll of Whiskeytown. This is a great solo debut by a great singer/songwriter. One more tip: If you're looking for another great Ryan Adams tune--one that rocks a bit more than most of the stuff on "Heartbreaker"--check out "Monday Night" on the incredible compilation "Down to the Promised Land: 5 Years of Bloodshot Records." That set features 40 tracks by some great artists: Adams, Robbie Fulks, Old 97's, Alejandro Escovedo, Caitlin Cary (also of Whiskeytown fame), the Waco Brothers, and more. It's all previously unreleased stuff, and it's all great!
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Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams (Audio CD - 2000)
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