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Soundbite

Our critics' picks in new releases

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It's true that Cold Roses, Ryan Adams' debut with The Cardinals of Cindy Cashdollar, J.P. Bowersock, Brad Pemberton and Catherine Popper, continues his tradition of mining--if not ripping--every concept he learned from his vinyl heroes. Gold did it by mining a '70s greatest hits collection of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the lot, while its abysmal, self-aggrandized follow-up, Rock n' Roll, ultimately said, "So, yeah, I like punk bands X, Y and Z, too." Cold Roses nods hard to the cover of American Beauty and even plays with the Dead's bouncy bears in a centerfold picture of a grizzly bear handing a young boy a rose. But this Ryan Adams album is different, at least musically: This is the closest thing to Whiskeytown he's released since Pneumonia, and the best thing he's been involved in since Heartbreaker and perhaps the Jesse Malin debut he produced. Cold Roses is not as much Adams revived as it is Adams remembering what he does best, laying his heart on the line and his ego on the chopping block, exposing his neurotic tendencies and preternaturally romantic dispositions in that delicate sweetness. He doesn't sound imitative as much as he does exposed, intelligent, intimate and eclectic, and--for fans of classic Adams--that's important news. And, for the record, "Meadowlake Street" is one of the best things I've heard in a while.

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