Ryan Adams - So Alive

Ryan Adams has released three records in the last three months, and yet has failed to dent the charts with any of them. So Alive is the first single surprisingly to be culled from any of these releases, and it adopts his Rock N Roll moniker as opposed to his Love Is Hell persona.

So Alive is a very upbeat, pounding rock classic that pays its dues to eighties U2 and rockier Jeff Buckley. It’s certainly well-performed, but a surprise as choice of lead single off Rock N Roll, especially considering lead track This Is It seems almost perfect for radio, and that Luminol or Shallow have more airplay potential. Even so, it’s a frenetic, relentless rock classic nodding heavily to the past, and any faction of Adams’ fandom should appreciate it.

The single is released as a maxi-single on CD #1, which features the video and two b-sides, whereas CD #2 is a pound cheaper and features one sole b-side. Ah, Life is less produced than most of the songs from the Rock N Roll sessions, and has a Coral feel to its chord-rhythms. Don’t Even Know Her Name is a rockabilly number touching on shades of late Smiths and early La’s. It’s decent enough, but probably rightly doesn’t deserve to feature on Rock N Roll itself.

CD #2’s sole track I’m Coming Over is the probably the best b-side featured on the So Alive single, and is a slow-burning power-ballad with some fine high-fret power-chords.

What is so appealing about Rock N Roll is the notion that the songs are delivered in such a throwaway fashion by Adams almost effortlessly, and yet each one is a killer. Be it label appeasement or one big marketing scam, it’s clear that Adams can adopt any musical guise he wishes, and whilst the b-sides of So Alive lack the charm of any songs off Rock N Roll, they are still capable numbers that fans will want to own, whilst casual observers will look no further than the album.

Overall

7

out of 10

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