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CD Review: Ryan Adams and the Cardinals' Cardinology

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The Deal: Fifth studio effort – 12 tracks in 40 minutes – is follow-up to Easy Tiger.

The Good: Adams and the Cardinals don't stray from their alt-country ways on this latest effort. Adams, who has been known to have moments of uber-pretentious behavior, sounds like a more mature and relaxed songwriter. Hints of The Grateful Dead – musically in songs like "Natural Ghost" – and Neil Young – vocally in songs like "Go Easy" – can be heard throughout the album. Sporadic use of steel pedal guitar gives the album a country feel at times, but it's usually running down the middle of the folk road. "I know it's not a game, but it feels like losing when someone you love throws you away," Adams laments on "Fix It." The band also experiments with more of a retro-rock sound on "Magick."

The Bad: Adams has been constantly ripping out new tunes for years, so there isn't a shortage of material coming out, but this one's over and done a bit too quickly. Cardinology's laidback feel has the tendency to suck you into a song ... and just when you really get into it, it's over – half of the tracks clock in under three minutes.

The Verdict: I'll admit it – there was a time I thought Adams was just an ass and wouldn't give his music a chance, but he's won me over with his last few efforts. This album is one of his best and makes me look forward to his next release.

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