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Who is Ryan Adams?

A punk singer, an alt-rocker, a country singer, a Black metalhead?

A native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, he's lived in New York for quite a while.

In his own words, he started a punk band in Nashville (believe it nor not, there's a big punk scene out there), but started a country band 'cos punk "was too hard to sing."

He spent his first years as anything of significance as a member of the alt-country band Whiskeytown, where he became known in alt-country circuits for straightforward but deep lyrics in the tradition of Gram Parsons and his ilk. After Whiskeytown split up (thanks in no small part to Adams himself), he went solo, releasing the emphatically country Heartbreaker in 2000. A year later, he had the remarkable good fortune of releasing Gold, opening with a track entitled "New York, New York" two weeks after 9/11. (The song was in fact about one of his girlfriends; he has a habit of referring to women in his songs by their city of origin) causing that song's video -- which prominently featured the World Trade Center towers and was dedicated to those who lost their lives on that day -- to get massive MTV airplay. He produced a few good albums after that, including Love is Hell," which included a cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall" so good that Noel Gallagher himself felt compelled to use it until his brother Liam forced him to stop.

He then decided to release not one, not two, but three entirely new studio albums in one year (2005). And he did it, picking up a backing band (the Cardinals) and showing up on Letterman in the process, and producing what his alt-country fans consider to be his best album (Jacksonville City Nights), to boot.

After three more albums (one unofficially, the other two officially) with the Cardinals, he broke up the band in 2009, married Mandy Moore, released some Black Metal tracks as "Werewolph," and some generic Hard Rock ones as "Sleazy Handshake." The next year (2010) he announced that he would try yet again to release a large number of entirely new studio albums; one (Orion) is a Science Fiction Heavy Metal Concept Album that drew criticism, confusion, and general anger from the music press; Cardinals III/IV (recorded quite some time earlier) was released last year and we're still awaiting Blackhole. Another solo album, Ashes & Fire, was released in late 2011. While fans are appreciative of the amount of work he's doing, a lot would prefer him to focus and come out with a solid album for once (most of his albums suffer from high levels of Album Filler).


  • Heartbreaker (2000)
  • Gold (2001)
  • Demolition (2002)
  • Rock N Roll (2003)
  • Love Is Hell (2004)
  • Cold Roses (with The Cardinals) (2005)
  • Jacksonville City Nights (with The Cardinals) (2005)
  • 29 (2005)
  • Easy Tiger (with The Cardinals, but billed as solo) (2007)
  • Follow the Lights (with The Cardinals) (2007)
  • Cardinology (with The Cardinals) (2008)
  • Orion (limited edition album) (2010)
  • Cardinals III/IV (with The Cardinals) (2010)
  • Ashes & Fire (2011)

Tropes present in his work:

  • Album Filler: The natural effect of his ridiculously prodigious output. Particularly annoying on Cold Roses, which had the potential to be a really great album otherwise.
  • Berserk Button: He finds nothing humorous when concert-goers request songs by a certain 80's pop singer who happens to share all the letter's in the younger Adams' name.
  • No-Hit Wonder: He has never had a significant charting hit, but continues to record quite often.
  • Rhyming with Itself: "When the Stars Go Blue" rhymes "blue" with itself.
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