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Published: 2006/08/23
by Rebecca Carter

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ- 7/20

Throughout his prolific career Ryan Adams has run a gamut of genres; everything from the hipster radio friendly to country with a twang genuine enough to make you cry in your beer. At the Starland Ballroom, Adams blended his often-sporadic range of styles to create the one single thought of pure rock n’ roll.

The stand out element of Ryan’s performance was his musicianship. When it comes to the guitar, he can really lay it down live. His phrasing between verses, especially on “Mockingbird,” brought a whole new heavy blues dimension to the music. He introduced “Let It Ride” with a laid back intro that really got you ready for the song to kick in. “Easy Plateau,” “Cherry Lane” and a real balls-to-the-wall version of “Beautiful Sorta” were more stand tunes of the night. Seeing Adams live also brought into focus his ability as a writer. His nasally and sometimes gravelly voice belted out lines like “Leaves burn like effigies of my kin,” with a degree of honesty that caused you to feel the depth of his writing even more so then the studio versions.

Although Ryan Adams has been criticized for being just a little too on the prolific side, it is a performance like this one that bring his work into focus. Perhaps the studio is his testing ground rather then the stage and Adams live is where it all comes together. The show was more of a gritty stream of consciousness then a set list, and he left the audience feeling like they caught a raw glimpse of his world rather then a reiteration of his music.

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