Ryan Adams, III/IV
Official release date: December 14, 2010
The verdict: Ryan Adams originally recorded III/IV with his band the Cardinals in 2007, during the sessions for the excellent Easy Tiger. So is there any good reason why it hasn't been released until now? No, not really. Adams has explained, “We were ready to tell these stories but like all Cards adventures they were soon followed by more playing writing and touring and we got sidelined by making that mellow classic Easy Tiger I think we just assumed as a band that we would make Easy Tiger, it would go unnoticed and wham back to the III/IV record we would go. Fate was not interested in that story.” Which is to say that you don't need to put III/IV through the mitigating-B-sides filter before listening: III/IV is a proper Ryan Adams studio album. Also: Good!
It's a double album that runs over an hour, so we haven't gotten a chance to digest it fully, but if (like Vulture) you have a soft spot for Adams's 2003 album Rock n' Roll, you'll love this: There are slick electric-guitar riffs all over the place and all manner of yelpy, sing-along choruses, but it leans much closer to Adams's traditional folkier side than Rock n' Roll did. (Adams has said it's the “first record I made when I got off the booze and the drugs,” and in that context it sounds appropriately lighthearted.) Adams has only had one radio hit, with “New York, New York,” and in a just world, III/IV would get the promotional push to launch another one (“Breakdown Into the Resolve,” if we had to choose right now). Please, Ryan Adams, continue recording and releasing every single thought you ever have.