Ryan Adams & the Cardinals Follow The Lights

Although last summer’s Easy Tiger was his most concisely rewarding release in some time, it was a little premature to think that it actually meant the ever-prolific Adams was about to pull back in the studio. Follow The Lights contains only seven songs but they sound like the songs Adams reluctantly kept off Easy Tiger. It’s hard to say if this would have made much of a difference, since the title track, "My Love For You Is Real” and "Blue Hotel” (first recorded by Willie Nelson on the Adams-produced Songbird) each possess a tortured country rock grandeur that was the album’s hallmark. However, the rest of this EP is more of a treat for fans of Adams’ spontaneous side. A cover of Alice In Chains’ "Down In A Hole” is entirely appropriate, as is a reworking of "This Is It,” first recorded on 2003’s patchy Rock N Roll. What’s most obvious throughout Follow The Lights is Adams’ acknowledgement of the symbiosis he has achieved with his band, and he can’t be faulted for exploring that to its fullest. If he and the Cardinals are able to maintain this level of excellence, there will no longer be any reason to question the frequency of Adams’ output. (Lost Highway/Universal)