Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
(Lost Highway)


Ryan Adams has cleaned up his act, said Steve LaBate in Paste. The prolific singer-songwriter, who grew up in South Carolina and resides in New York, has gone sober recently. Cardinology plays out his recovery in public—though that hardly makes it breaking news. Adams made a similar gesture with last year’s Easy Tiger, and while “anyone with a beating heart can rejoice” in the man’s rehabilitation, fans shouldn’t be subjected to every last step of his progress. Cardinology often sounds “too much like self-help literature and not enough like a moving piece of art.” Although a “pretty slight” effort, especially for Adams, Cardinology has moments of redemption, said Steven Hyden in The Onion. The Cardinals were Adams’ crutch as he battled heartbreak, insomnia, and drug addiction. As the group churns out “sprawling, spaced-out country rock,” it also brings out “his natural gifts as a melodist and vocalist.” Adams has conjured the spirits of classic rock before, but never so well, said Will Hermes in Rolling Stone. This time around, “drunk on melody” and “high on musical history,” he delivers the album that he has been promising these past few years.