Ryan Adams & the Cardinals: Follow The Lights


Ryan Adams is a freak of nature.  Most songwriters crank out an album every few years, tour between, and go about their business. 

Not Adams, though.  No, he’s a writing machine.  His Easy Tiger, released in June, is one of the better albums of the year.  Most musicians would be fine with that, but Adams followed it up four months later with Follow The Lights, a seven-song EP that is just as good.

 The EP is comprised of new and reworked versions old material, and two covers – a great take on Willie Nelson’s "Blue Hotel" and a version of Alice In Chains’ "Down In A Hole" that will be dropping jaws until the end of time.  Most of the songs have surfaced in acoustic form, much like they did on his fall tour.  "This Is It" is a toned down version – much different than the plugged in version that was on Rock And Roll.  "If I Am A Stranger" is softened and tender, with haunting pedal steel in the background – probably a better version than the original.

"Down In A Hole" is probably the strongest song on the disc, and it’s nothing short of stellar.  His vocals are clearly different than Layne Staley’s, but the song holds water – it’s close enough to the original to do justice, but the Cardinals’ take is different enough to make it their own, and it’s a great, great version.