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It captures an artist not only in a phase of incredible productivity but also experimenting with a number of styles
Phil Udell, 12 Sep 2002
The story goes something like this. A couple of weeks after finishing work on would turn out to be the Gold album, Ryan Adams is at an LA gig by his friend Alanis Morrissette. So inspired is he by her performance that he heads home to write, heading into a studio a few days later. Within 48 hours, he had recorded enough material for an entire new album. It’s against this sort of backdrop that Demolition appears.
In a ten-month period around the making and touring of Gold (itself no slouch in the quantity department) Adams went into the studio on five separate occasions, each time emerging with a rake of demo material which has, until now, lay unearthed. Demolition is a sort of round up of the period.
It captures an artist not only in a phase of incredible productivity but also experimenting with a number of styles. The mournful slide guitar that opens the album may be familiar, but it leads into the less accustomed ragged, freewheeling sound of ‘Nuclear’. That leads to ‘Hallelujah’, a classic blue collar anthem which in turn leads to the fragile ‘You Will Always Be The Same’. It’s that sort of album.
Everytime he went into the studio, Adams was working to a different agenda. The most immediate work comes from the Pinkhearts sessions, the name of the garage band that he formed with his touring musicians. Here the strain of the workload begins to show, the singer’s voice cracking and straining on ‘Starting To Hurt’ and ‘Gimme A Sign’. Along with the sparse production and live, one take recording process, it just adds to the spontaneous, late night feel of it all. The spectre of the Replacements and Husker Du hangs heavy and it sounds fantastic.
That two day LA session provides a similarly upbeat output, this time with one foot firmly in the alt country camp. Aside from ‘Hallelujah’ (which sounds exactly like a song called ‘Hallelujah’ should sound), there’s the blue grass tinged ‘Chin Up, Cheer Up’ and thoughtful ‘Dear Chicago’.
It’s these slower, quieter songs that really shine a light on an ever-growing talent. The eerie ‘Jesus (Don’t Touch My Baby)’, the Roy Orbison meets Nick Cave falsetto of ‘She Wants To Play Hearts’, the quietly epic ‘Desire’ and the exquisite ‘Cry On Demand’ – all are stunning and all bode extremely well for his upcoming solo Dublin shows. The only downer is that none of the songs from the rumoured cover of the entire Strokes album made the cut.
Demolition could have been a disaster. With a large part of the world clamouring for a new studio album, a collection of half finished demos could easily have fallen flat. Also, after the slightly unwieldy Gold, the wanton eclecticism included here might have been too much to take. With Demolition, Ryan Adams takes all these potential pitfalls in his stride and emerges unscathed.
It begs one question, however. If this is the stuff that he doesn’t use, then what the hell is his next ‘proper’ album going to sound like?