Released: June 26, 2007
Reviewer: Nathan Atnikov
With a year and a half between Ryan Adams albums, itâ€™s easy to let your expectations get the best of you. Surely, Easy Tiger was set to be an experimental quintuple album, where Adams ties every genre imaginable back to alt-country in such an awe inspiring way, that every other musician in the world would instantly feel like frauds, and the production of contemporary music as we know it would end.
In reality, Easy Tiger is 13 songs. Under 40 minutes. And it is the most straightforward, earnest country album that Adams has made. Itâ€™s sure to be compared to 2005â€™s Jacksonville City Nights, but that album felt more like a performance of country stereotypes (over the top slide guitar and drawl-y vocals). Easy Tiger is more subdued, more polished, and it feels a little bit more honest.
You can immediately tell that this album is different than anything heâ€™s done before, but itâ€™s hard to pinpoint exactly why. These songs have a more complete feeling to them than his previous work, likely because of the extra time Adams gave himself to work on them, but thatâ€™s neither a good or a bad thing. What it ultimately comes down to is what is explicitly stated in the albumâ€™s title â€“ heâ€™s taking it easy.
Electric guitar appears most prominently on â€˜Halloweenhead,â€™ but even then itâ€™s fairly restrained. The best songs on the album (â€˜Off Broadway,â€™ â€˜Two Heartsâ€™) are driven by acoustic guitar and layers of subtle drumming and some of Adamsâ€™ finest melodies. Most importantly, Easy Tiger feels like a cohesive album, something that Adams came close to on Cold Roses, but never totally realized until now.
Easy Tiger is a statement of maturity from an artist who has long (and unfairly) been bemoaned as being too flighty. It stands up with some of Adamsâ€™ best work, but only in the absence of his erratic song-writing personality can we realize how much we enjoyed it in the first place.