Jacksonville City Nights

Jacksonville City Nights

5.0 3
by Ryan Adams & the Cardinals
     
 

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Ryan Adams has always used country music as a flavoring agent in his sonic gumbo, but on this, his fifth post-Whiskeytown album, he makes it the main ingredient -- a choice that's both tantalizing and earthily satisfying. The disc is laced with memories -- more bitter than sweet -- of his North Carolina hometown, a burg that revolvesSee more details below

Overview

Ryan Adams has always used country music as a flavoring agent in his sonic gumbo, but on this, his fifth post-Whiskeytown album, he makes it the main ingredient -- a choice that's both tantalizing and earthily satisfying. The disc is laced with memories -- more bitter than sweet -- of his North Carolina hometown, a burg that revolves around a military base, hardly the sort of spot one would expect Adams to flourish in. Not only does Jacksonville give the album its title, it imbues one of its finest songs, the poignant "The End," with wistful sepia tones. There's a good bit of melancholy on display here, from the Faron Young–styled "My Heart Is Broken" to the deceptively upbeat piano choogler "A Kiss Before I Go," but Adams's expressive singing and no-nonsense lyrics stay on the right side of the line that separates the mope-rock boys from the down-but-not-out C&W men. To his credit, Adams never sounds like a day-tripper in these environs: Whether duetting with Norah Jones on the hazy "Dear John" -- which splits the difference between Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood and Tammy Wynette/Porter Wagoner -- or strafing against a keening fiddle on "The Hardest Part," he sounds like he's pouring out his heart, not merely playing the role of country crooner. Nashville, and the rest of the music world, could learn a lot from that.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ever since the big, splashy Gold failed to make Ryan Adams an all-conquering superstar -- it bolstered his reputation as a rock critic darling, but never had the sales to match the press -- he's retreated to genre exercises, beginning with the sleek modern rock of 2003's Rock N Roll and its moody alt-rock counterpart, Love Is Hell, carrying through to his Neil Young/Grateful Dead pastiche on his spring 2005 double album, Cold Roses, and now its autumn sequel, Jacksonville City Nights. Arriving a little over four months after Cold Roses as the second installment of a planned trilogy of 2005 releases, Jacksonville City Nights -- which at one point was going to be called the less-evocative but calendar-specific September -- is Adams' straight-up, straight-ahead country album, a lean 46-minute collection of 14 songs designed for late-night drinking. While the terrific cover art deliberately echoes classic '60s country LPs, the sound of the album isn't quite as honky tonk as that suggests, thanks to a handful of brooding numbers like "September" that are too introspective, lyric-centered, and light on melody to truly qualify as classicist country. These are the weakest moments here, but they're also the exception to the rule, since most of the songs here represent a number of classic country archetypes, from the opening pair of barroom anthems, "A Kiss Before I Go" and "The End," to his "Dear John" duet with Norah Jones or the light hillbilly swagger of the galloping "Trains" and how "My Heart Is Broken" is sweetened by just enough swings to give it a candy coating but not enough to turn it into countrypolitan schmaltz. As good as these cuts sound, it's still hard not to shake the suspicion that Ryan Adams is primarily a pastiche artist, since it's not only easy to spot influences throughout the album, but because the atmosphere of the record makes more of an impression than the individual songs. That said, Jacksonville City Nights still ranks as one of Adams' stronger albums, not just because he's returning to his rootsy roots -- after all, this isn't alt-country, this is pure country -- but because it maintains a consistent mood, is tightly edited and well sequenced, and thanks to the Cardinals, has the easy assurance of Cold Roses, which is preferable to the somewhat desperate feel of the records immediately following Heartbreaker. It may not all add up to a major statement, which is something Gold and Rock N Roll aspired to be, but it surely makes for a more likeable and ultimately more listenable album.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/27/2005
Label:
Lost Highway
UPC:
0602498806548
catalogNumber:
000470702
Rank:
57612

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals   Primary Artist
David Angell   Violin
Carl Gorodetzky   Violin
Jim Grosjean   Viola
Bob Hoffnar   Pedal Steel Guitar
Julia Kent   Cello
Bob Mason   Cello
Joe McGinty   Piano
Nashville String Machine   Track Performer
Pamela Sixfin   Violin
Alan Umstead   Violin
Catherine Umstead   Violin
Gary VanOsdale   Viola
Mary Kathryn Van Osdale   Violin
Bergen White   Conductor
Kris Wilkinson   Viola
Jon Graboff   Pedal Steel Guitar,Background Vocals,Various,Group Member
Glenn Patscha   Piano,Background Vocals
Ryan Adams   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Group Member,Indexed Contributor
Connie Ellison   Violin
Carole Rabinowitz-Neuen   Cello
Claudia Chopek   Violin
Norah Jones   Piano,Vocals
Byron Isaacs   Background Vocals
J.P. Bowersock   Electric Guitar,Group Member
David Gold   Violin,Viola
Catherine Popper   Bass,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Group Member
Michael Panes   Violin
Brad Pemberton   Drums

Technical Credits

Fred Kevorkian   Mastering
Bergen White   String Arrangements
Tom Schick   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Jon Graboff   Composer
Ryan Adams   Composer,Art Direction
Caitlin Cary   Composer
Norah Jones   Composer
J.P. Bowersock   Composer
Catherine Popper   Composer
Tom Gloadly   Producer,Engineer
Michael Panes   Composer
Andy West   Art Direction
Brad Pemberton   Composer

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