Released: September 5, 2000
Producer: Ethan Johns
I remember picking up this record 15 years ago and being really excited as I was already into alt-country at the time and familiar with Whiskeytown, so buying frontman Ryan Adams’ solo record debut seemed like a no-brainer. Then the first track came on which is the 38 second “(Argument with David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey)” (An argument regarding the Morrissey track “Suedehead”.) What the hell is this? I am all about the importance of sequencing and this first track, although funny, was messing with my experience so I went into track 2 with a newly found hesitation.
That of course changed quickly as Adams’ energetic “whoo hoo” kicks off “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)” and instantly became the classic track that it is today. Rowdy perfection without being too country, too indie or too complicated. The last part of that statement is actually the gorgeous part about Heartbreaker because Adams the artist can be extremely complex.
“To Be Young” is a true set up because a majority of the entire record moves the tempo down and has that “breakup all your relationships” type of vibe going on. This is what makes Heartbreaker such an intriguing and spiraling listen that is packed with tracks that are still favorites today. The rare guest appearance by legend Emmylou Harris on “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” sealed the deal as everyone can identify with missing your home. One of the best relationship gone wrong songs is “Come Pick Me Up,” that uses a soulful harmonica to cut deep and just lets all type of emotions out on the floor. It is a song that everyone dreams about writing and is some of the best 5 minutes you can spend with Adams.
It is hard to believe that Heartbreaker just turned 15. You couldn’t ask for a better kickoff to your solo career and Adams has never made the same album twice. Clearly along the way he has had some tracks that could have fit in here somewhere but it is a special mark in his catalog that always will rank up there with his best if not number one. It amazes me that Adams is still not a household name so if this post is your introduction – do yourself a favor and stream this record right now – then go buy the newly reissued 2LP version for your collection!
Deep Cuts: “Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)” / “Why Do They Leave?” / “In My Time Of Need”
If you like Ryan Adams you might like: Evan Phillips / Jason Isbell / Butch Walker
Interesting Fact: The album’s title originates from a poster of Mariah Carey.
What is Ryan Adams up to now?: Adams continues to release a high quality and volume of music. His excellent self-titled record ended up at number 16 in our Top 50 last year and you can consistently find new 7” releases from Ryan of all new music almost every other month. He also released Live At Carnegie Hall back in April and I am sure there is more to come like his cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.
Ryan Adams Website
Ryan Adams Facebook
– Reviewed by Christopher Anthony