MUSIC REVIEWS: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

Jacksonville City Nights Lost Highway
Music •••½ Sound ••••
Both eclectic and prolific - this is his second of three scheduled releases this year - Ryan Adams has now reached back to his roots for a set of traditional country music, the inspiration behind his previous rock and alt-country discs. But this is traditional music marked by the occasionally idiosyncratic phrasing that pegs Adams as a modern singer/songwriter. Delving into subject matter that's appropriately remorseful, he uses his melancholy throb judiciously, and his lyrical acuity is as sharp as ever. The album is mostly relaxed without being draggy (serving up 14 cuts in 46 minutes), and while there's a lack of memorable melodies to hook you right away, the slowly seductive ambience rewards repeated listenings. It's the kind of well-crafted sadness you can sink into, glad to be unhappy.