Ryan Adams & the Cardinals

Cold Roses (Lost Highway)

Phases & Stages

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals

Cold Roses (Lost Highway)

Third time's the double charm for Ryan Adams and his editors at Lost Highway. The fourth side of Adams' debut for the Universal imprint, 2001's still best Gold, wound up a now out-of-print bonus disc, while 2003's Rock N Roll amputated a pair of (what else?) melancholy EPs that bested the LP when (re)united as Love Is Hell. At almost 77 minutes, Cold Roses, trumpeted as boy wonder's "first full-band collaboration" since going solo, fits on one disc, yet ambles comfortably over the two CDs its prolific marquee talent apparently demands. The sealing presence of Austin's steel and lap steel guitar queen Cindy Cashdollar as one-fifth Cardinal plants Cold Roses in the same soil as Adams' previous "full-band collaboration," Whiskeytown, whose "Dancing With the Women at the Bar" lives on in "Now That You're Gone" and bassist Catherine Popper's shadowing harmonies on "Sweet Illusions." Rachael Yamagata later plays the role of Whiskeytown foil Caitlin Cary on easy Eagles-esque strummer "Let It Ride." For every two full blooms ("Cherry Lane," "Rosebud") there's a stem ("Mockingbird"), and a couple decent toss-offs ("Beautiful Sorta," "Dance All Night"), but such is Adams' double-album hubris. Maybe ruminative Midwestern soul on the order of "How Do You Keep Love Alive" simply needs room to ramble.

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