Monday, 15 September 2008

"Everybody Knows EP" by RYAN ADAMS and THE CARDINALS. An 8-track end of year gem for 2007.

I'll openly admit it - I'm a voracious fan of Ryan Adams and his superb song writing - not to mention The Cardinals who seem to play a blinder on everything they touch! So I legged it into my local HMV this a.m. 19 Nov 2007 - day of release - and bought this EP with the grin of a child let loose in a sweet factory! And I'm pleased to say - it's a quiet little peach. In fact, I suspect this limited edition will garnish cult collectability almost immediately.

"Everybody Knows" is from the "Easy Tiger" album of earlier this year (pictured above) and is the same as the album track - so no surprises there. It's a beautiful tune and hopefully it will get airplay for the great album it came from. But then we get 7 bonuses, two new songs and five more 'live in the studio' versions of older songs.

"Follow The Lights" and "My Love For You Is Real" are the `new' songs. "Follow" is good, but hardly great, while "Real" is just gorgeous - brilliant - I'll be playing it to buggery for days!

On to the 5 live. "Blue Hotel" first appeared on Willie Nelson's "Songbird" CD of 2006 (he covers the Fleetwood Mac track from Rumours - hence the album title). Adams wrote it for Nelson and the album project, produced the CD and The Cardinals are the backing band on the track (see my review for further details). It's probably his best `outside' song not officially on any of his own albums. Adams also featured "Blue Hotel" to spectacular effect on the recently aired BBC 4 Sessions program - where the audience cheer was loud and heartfelt. It's fantastic at last to hear his own version - and it's graced with Jon Graboff's beautiful pedal steel guitar work throughout. I can't make up my mind, which version I prefer actually, both are superb. This is a MUST OWN for any fan.

Next follows a cover version and a great choice it is too. "Down In the Hole" is on 1992's "Dirt", the second album from Alice In Chains (written by Jerry Cantrell). It's rockin' in that Cardinals countrified kind of way - a definite highlight on this disc.

"This Is It" was co-written with Johnny T and first appeared on the Ryan Adams "Rock N Roll" album from 2003. The version here is a softer `unplugged' take on the song and is actually a cool reworking of the hard rocking original. "If I Am A Stranger" originally appeared on the first of the 2005 trilogy, the 2CD set "Cold Roses" (May 2005). Again the pace is slowed down and given a softer more acoustic treatment - bringing out the lovely melody buried in the original.

"Dear John" originally turned on up "Jacksonville City Nights" (Sept 2005), the second in his trilogy of 2005 releases. The original version featured NORAH JONES to superb effect on duet vocals (it's also co-written with her), but this version is just Ryan on his own. It's a great song and one that probably got unfairly lost on that album, hence I suspect why he's returning to it here - and why he features it so much in the live sets. It's a good way to end the EP - on a high note - with a real song.

It's not all genius of course, but for me, even his second best is a better listen than most of the bilge I'm told I should like. Bluntly - Ryan Adams and The Cardinals have produced better quality on a throwaway end-of-year EP than more bands do on an entire album. And that's cause to celebrate.

Buy this now while you can. I envy you the journey.

PS: the US version of the EP is called "Follow The Lights", has a different cover and with 7 titles also has 1 less track (pictured below)

1 comment:

Indie Sessions said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog, these ep is magical and dear john is the best , kicks the album versions ass! its even better live,
I persume you know about this little gem
Where any live bootleg is available and all unreal sounding, going to see him on the 8th of nov in dublin again, bring it on!

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