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Heartbreaker
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Ryan Adams (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano); David Rawlings (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, tambourine); Gillian Welch (vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo, electric bass); Ethan Johns (Hammond b-3 organ, chamberlin, vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums).
  • Audio Mixer: Ethan Johns.
  • Recording information: Pilot Studios, NYC; Waltmore St. Studios, Jacksonville, NC; Woodland Studios, Room A, Nashville, TN.
  • Photographer: David McClister.
  • Whiskeytown were one the mid-'90s wave of bands who approached American roots music--country, folk, singer/songwriter, and combinations thereof--from an alternative rock standpoint. They were apt to be as influenced by Nick Drake and Superchunk as by Johnny Cash and Neil Young. Ryan Adams performs vocal duties for Whiskeytown, and HEARTBREAKER is his first solo album.
  • It's primarily a singer/songwriter affair, with lots of acoustic guitars, gentle drums, subtle keyboards, and back-porch harmony vocals, but there's also a lot of variety and kick. "To Be Young" tears out of the gate like a rollicking out-take from Dylan's HIGHWAY 61 sessions, and the gentle, shimmering, baroque-tinged "Amy" recalls both the Left Banke, and the Beatles in their "Eleanor Rigby" mode. Many tunes--like "To Be the One"--have a bare-bones, dusty, story-telling quality that recalls Dylan, John Prine, Woody Guthrie, and Steve Earle (who Adams slightly resembles vocally) without ever sounding like Adams is aping them. As a bonus, Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch supply heavenly harmonies.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (9/14/00, p.177) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...[His] sources run deep...he has the raspy, quavering voice and innate tunefulness to be worthy of [his sources]...which run from Paul Westerberg to Hank Williams....[He has] considerable talent and charm..."

Entertainment Weekly (9/8/00, p.89) - "...A brash, alt-country balladeer with a rock instinct....cementing [his] rep as a latter-day Gram Parsons." - Rating: B+

Q (1/01, p.104) - 4 out of 5 stars - "...An album of aching ballads topped and tailed by some irresistible barroom remorse....Gram Parsons would have been proud."

Uncut (p.92) - "[A] brilliant mix of romantic burn-out, reckless bravado, charred emotions, tender swagger and fractured beauty..."

Alternative Press (5/01, p.104) - Included in AP's "10 Essential Breakup Albums" - "...The torment is all Adams' - we can be certain of that..."

CMJ (1/08/01, p.9) - Included in CMJ's "Best of the Year" for 2000.

CMJ (9/4/00, p.3) - "...A brand-new set of foot-stomping anthems and rum-soaked ballads....[He] is the newest icon of heartfelt country rock."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.61) - Ranked #52 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "Adams conjures a kitbag of Dylanesque blues, tear-in-your-beer country and aching Greenwich Village-style folk."

Mojo (Publisher) (11/00, p.98) - "...Haunted and hurting, this is an album about love....though quiet and spare...it's impassioned, lyrically and melodically..."

NME (Magazine) (12/30/00, p.79) - Ranked #45 in NME's "Top 50 Albums Of The Year".

NME (Magazine) (11/25/00, p.34) - 8 stars out of 10 - "...Adams takes sighing acoustic guitars and melancholic country melodies and strips them bare until all that remains are the stinging truths of the heart, and his own ruminations....a fine successor to Jeff Buckley's throne as visionary rock troubador."

Uncut (magazine) - "[HEARTBREAKER] remains a singular pinnacle in a sometimes overstretched career, unforgettable, entirely wonderful."
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