After unloading some bad news regarding Cardinology – and the extended discussion that followed – i’m glad to move on with my Ryan Adams Spotlight. This edition features what is probably the most underrated Ryan Adams album.
If you’ve been keeping up here, you know that Demolition was the result of numerous studio sessions that took place both before and after the recording of Gold. Lost Highway wasn’t hip to the idea of releasing a 4-disc set, so some decision making was in order. You could say they took a wrecking ball to those collections and what came out of the rubble were the 13 tracks that make up his third solo album.
1. Nuclear ~ Pinkheart 2
2. Hallelujah ~ 48 Hours
3. You Will Always Be The Same
4. Desire ~ 48 Hours
5. Cry On Demand ~ Suicide Handbook
6. Starting To Hurt ~ Pinkheart 1
7. She Wants To Play Hearts ~ Suicide Handbook
8. Tennessee Sucks ~ Pinkheart 1
9. Dear Chicago ~ Suicide Handbook
10. Gimme A Sign ~ Pinkheart 1
11. Tomorrow ~ Pinkheart 2
12. Chin Up, Cheer Up ~ 48 Hours
13. Jesus (Don’t Touch My Baby) ~ Pinkheart 2
For coming from so many different studios, engineers, and session players, the album really does have a cohesive feel. But that doesn’t mean the songs are too similar… actually just the opposite. Demolition offers quite of variety of Ryan’s sounds. It’s one of Ryan’s more low-key, mellow records without being too sappy or introspective. Most of the songs are a jaded look back at failed relationships (i know, what else is new?). But compared to much of his recent work on the subject, the songs from Demolition offer a fresh, unique outlook on love-gone. In an interview with Uncut Magazine, Ryan described many of the stories behind the tunes. Check out some snippets on AnsweringBell.com.
A majority of the tracks lack a definite chorus, helping to give the album its cohesiveness. Rather than a collection of singles – which is probably what Lost Highway thought they were getting – Demolition reads like a snapshot of the things Ryan was going through at this point in his life. He was living in Hollywood during the time he wrote most of these songs, and the women in his life at that time inspired a lot of them.
Nuclear, the album’s single, leads off on somewhat of a weak note. The first verse could be thought to encapsulate Ryan’s feelings on the processes that produced the album – “In a flash of pure destruction, no one wins,” but it was written months prior and, according to Ryan, the song is about meeting someone for the first time. With wailing harmonicas, Hallelujah and Desire are highlights, carrying over a style present on Gold.
Along with Nuclear, Gimme a Sign and Starting To Hurt are the liveliest songs in the collection. Elecritc guitars, reverb, and spiteful lyrics show Ryan’s transition into the sound that would characterize his next venture. Ryan learned of a woman jumping off a building and upon seeing said building, wrote Starting To Hurt. It’s an interesting, slightly optimistic, interpretation of the events of that day.
You Will Always Be The Same, Cry On Demand, She Wants to Play Hearts, and Tomorrow exhibit Ryan’s ever-present singer/songwriter style with sparse arrangements allowing his words to ring out. An expansion on Saturday Night, Tennessee Sucks is a bluesy little tune about “Tennessee really sucking,” and he and his band finding the most accessible ways to deal with it.
Chin Up, Cheer Up is the least meshing song on the record, but interestingly, it’s one of my favorites. A mildly bluegrass feel with up-tempo picking, the song is a rare occurance of a hopeful Ryan Adams writing lyrics to fit the music. Ryan says “it’s about covering elephants in tin-foil for no good reason,” but is evidence of him simply enjoying what he’s doing.
Jesus… again shows Ryan’s habit of finishing an album with a slow ballad. Another tune about learning his ‘friend’ is sick, Ryan says he kicked The Pinkhearts out of the studio to reflect. What resulted was a boring song filled with synthesizers and a drum machine. Young Winds would have worked much better.
The Japanese/UK releases of Demolition came with a bonus side of 4 songs. New York, New York and To Be Young were recorded live in Amsterdam, while the other 2 tracks are highlights from the aforesaid sessions. Each of these two tracks was also released on the singles for Nuclear – one with the CD and one with the 7 inch.
Song For Keith
Check out the rest of my Ryan Adams Spotlight