Heartbreaker review by Ryan Adams

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  • Released: Sep 5, 2000
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (14 votes)
Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker

Sound — 9
This is alt.country pioneer, Ryan Adams, first solo outing after his band Whiskeytown dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and drugs. This is without a doubt Ryan's best album. After 3 albums with his band Whiskeytown, Ryan finally hit the nail on the head with Heartbreaker. The sound of the album is almost flawless with Ethan Johns on the helm producing, giving the album an extremely raw sound, making it seem although Adams is playing the songs beside you. The album itself never strays too far from the singer/songwriter genre with Adams dipping his toes in americana, country, folk and rock and roll and this in itself makes the album all the more cohesive and easier to listen to as a whole. As Adams himself said in an interview not long after the release of Heartbreaker, "I don't want to bang on my guitar with a hammer and say, "Look at me, I'm different!" I would much rather say, "This is a cool song"" This quote perfectly describes the music found in Heartbreaker.

Lyrics — 8
Throughout Adams entire career, the majority of the hundreds of song which he has recorded have dealt with the problems of relationships and love and Heartbreaker is no different. In fact, the album is basically about the end of a relationship which Adams had invested a lot into, only for it to end in "Heartbreak". Ryan's voice suits the lyric perfectly, as the minor imperfections in his voice add to the raw sound of the record and the fragility of the lyrics. However, one complaint which I have with Adams lyrics is the fact that they are nearly all about love and this can get somewhat repetitive, however, this is only a minor qualm as the lyrics on Heartbreaker are of a top quality and of the best in Adam's repitoire.

Overall Impression — 9
This is without a doubt the best record Adam's has ever recorded or in my humble opinion, ever will record. Ryan followed up Heartbreaker with the commercial sound of Gold, which in itself is a great album but not as good as Heartbreaker. Standout tracks on the album are, "Come Pick Me Up", "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and "In My Time Of Need". Adams has never made an album as lasting and enjoyable as this (however his triple album attack in 2005 of Jackonsville City Nights, Cold Roses and 29, has come close). Heartbreaker is the definition of a modern classic.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Dirk Gently
    Gold got me into Ryan Adams. Heartbreaker made me fall in love with his music. I used to think Gold was a better album because it has more pop appeal -- many of the songs are stylistic copies of his influences, such as Neil Young ("Goodnight Hollywood Blvd.") and The Rolling Stones ("Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues"). Heartbreaker, though, has such a honest lack of polish and cathartic rawness that you can't help but be drawn in. And the songs will echo in your head. For example, I recently spent 2 weeks on the other side of the world; the soundtrack to my trip was "Oh My Sweet Carolina," not because I'm from NC or SC, but because the theme of a wanderer's homesickness rung tuning fork-true in my heart. Such is the case with the album as a whole; nothing seems contrived or commercial. It has the convincing air of war stories told by a combat veteran. Ryan Adams has led a tempestuous, drug-fueled, self-destructive life, and Heartbreaker is like reading snippets of his diary.
    very good album. probably my favorite or close second to jacksonville city nights.