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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cold Roses

(Lost Highway Records)
Released 5/3/05

The Reviews

"Easily one of the finest modern classic-rock double-discs since Wilco's Being There." - (Michael Hoinski - Village Voice)

"The first man of modern americana returns with his finest work to date." (Andy Riggs - Americana UK)

"At its best, Cold Roses lives between the twin blooms of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" and the Grateful Dead's American Beauty, each of which turned to country music at the start of the Seventies to sustain a counterculture rapidly running out of gas. That sound -- exhaustion and transcendence chasing each other round and round -- gives Cold Roses its peculiar charge....... a Ryan Adams record with Jerry Garcia-like guitar trying to snake its way skyward? That's something new...... it feels like real road music: detailed arrangements, built up night after night, that still leave room for finding new details in the moment. So the songs seem tossed off and carefully constructed at the exact same moment, a trick that works perfectly" (Joe Levy - Rolling Stone - 6/2/05)

"Cold Roses sees Adams trudging back to his country roots, turning up the twang, curling his cowboy boots into cold, east village pavement, and transforming his frantic yawps into star-fed cries....... Cold Roses' most palpable reference point may be American Beauty-era Grateful Dead.......... Cold Roses is clever and uncommonly listenable... Even lyrically, Adams is modest and cautiously confessional..... squirming away from the overblown antics of yesteryear and embracing, instead, the staid earnestness of his roots. It's a welcome return." (7.2 Rating - Amanda Petrusich - Pitchfork Media - 5/4/05)

"And the good news is that Cold Roses is a (mostly) warm and convincing return to the classic country-rock of his breakthrough album, Heartbreaker........It's not all roses: Beautiful Sorta is lightweight filler, but even here the playing by his new band, featuring the twin attack of guitarist J P Bowersock and pedalsteel player Cindy Cashdollar, is admirable." (4 out of 5 stars - Joe Breen - Irish Times)

"Cold Roses, an overtly old-school double album that conjures vinyl-era folk heroes, from the New York Dolls to the Grateful Dead.............. Dual guitar gods Cindy Cashdollar and J.P. Bowersock make for some jammy folk rock, while Adams' tunesmithing and delivery have never been sweeter. As records about memory, love-loss, and a certain kind of '70s sonic idyll go, Roses is as evocative as Beck's Sea Change, if a little seedier." (Will Hermes - Spin - 7/14/05)

Disc 1
1. Magnolia Mountain
2. Sweet Illusions
3. Meadowlake Street
4. When Will You Come Back Home
5. Beautiful Sorta
6. Now that You're Gone
7. Cherry Lane
8. Mockingbird
9. How Do You Keep Love Alive

Disc 2
1. Easy Plateau
2. Let it Ride
3. Rosebud
4. Cold Roses
5. If I Am a Stranger
6. Dance All Night
7. Blossom
8. Life is Beautiful
9. Friends

Ryan Adams - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Drums, Bass, Piano
Catherine Popper - Bass, Background Vocals,Piano
Brad Pemberton - Drums, Background Vocals
JP Bowerstock - Guitar
Cindi Cashdollar - Lap Steel, Steel Guitar, Resonator Guitar, Background Vocals
Rachel Yamagata - Background Vocals, Piano

All Songs written by Adams, Bowerstock, Popper, Cashdollar, and Pemberton
Produced by Tom Schick
Recorded by Tom Schick and Tom Gloady
Mixed by Ryan Adams and Tom Schick
Recorded and Mixed at Loho Studios (NYC)
Mastered by Fred Kevorkian

The Background

Cold Roses is considered one of Ryan Adams' big comeback records. After a year of fighting with Lost Highway over the release of Love is Hell, breaking his wrist, and having to re-teach himself to play guitar; Ryan started the year by announcing he would be releasing not one but three new albums in 2005. With a great new band in the Cardinals and songs that seemed to meld the best parts of his earlier work with a jammier Grateful Dead influenced vibe, he sounded better than ever.

Reviews were positive across the board with Cold Roses. Even sights like Pitchfork Media who tended to bash his music in the past, showed some love. Cold Roses also made a new fan out of bass player - Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead) who invited Ryan to play several shows as the lead vocalist for his group - Phil Lesh and Friends.

Cold Roses was recorded in December of 2004 or January of 2005, followed quickly by the recording of Jacksonville City Nights. The songs on Cold Roses were recorded loosely and sometimes the Cardinals only had a couple quick takes to learn a song before it was put on tape. As a result, there are some rough edges and slightly off key notes, but it acts as part of the album's charm, and makes you feel like they're playing right beside you. As the Cardinals began heavily touring over the next few years, the songs on Cold Roses developed into fuller, more elaborate compositions featuring extended jams and new breakdowns within songs.

“I wanted this band to totally be about harmony singing, and I think it was on ‘Cherry Lane’ when it hit me. We all went in to do backgrounds, and instead of singing directly at the microphone, we were almost screaming, aiming our voices at the roof of the place. It was wild and trashy and beautiful, and that sorta told me the band was going to work, because we weren’t thinking technically. We were going for the feeling first and foremost.” - Ryan Adams ("Ryan Adams Gets His Feet Wet" by Tom Moon)

My Review

Cold Roses stands alongside Heartbreaker and Love is Hell as my favorite album by Ryan Adams. From it's loose jammy country rock feel, and Jerry Garcia inspired singing and soloing, to the uplifting, hopeful lyrics of the songs, to Ryan's sudden obsession with nature-themes (mountains, plateaus, valleys, lakes, roses); I have yet to hear a new release like it, since it came out in 2005. Still, there are traces of Ryan's past work on Cold Roses. "Now that You're Gone" sounds like it would have fit perfectly on Heartbreaker. While "Dance All Night", and "If I Am a Stranger" would have been right at home on a Whiskeytown record. Overall, Cold Roses sounds like a modern day take on the Dead's American Beauty orWorkingman's Dead (thrown in with some of the early albums by The Band). However it still manages to go some place new.

When news of this album came out, it had been close to a year and a half since the last Ryan Adams album, and very little was known about what he was up to. After breaking his arm and releasing two very different albums in 2003 (the alternative rock - Rock n Roll and the moody Smiths inspired Love is Hell), it was anybody's guess what he would do next. Then out of nowhere came the big announcement of three new albums in 2005. Not to mention, a new website was launched that featured weird and awesome artwork that made me think of Disney's Song of the South, and an impressive new single with "Let it Ride". I was never more excited about a new Ryan Adams single than when I first heard "Let it Ride".

During the week before the album hit stores, I was lucky enough to see Ryan Adams and the Cardinals perform many of these songs live. On both nights, over half of the set was made up new songs which were to be released over the next seven months. Hearing "Magnolia Mountain", "Easy Plateau", and "Cold Roses" for the first time blew my mind how great they sounded!

Definitely Essential! Alongside Heartbreaker, this is probably one of the better places to start, and in my opinion one of the best records of the decade.

Key Tracks: "Magnolia Mountain", "Sweet Illusions", "When Will You Come Back Home", "Cherry Lane", "Mockingbirdsing", "How Do You Keep Love Alive", "Easy Plateau", "Let it Ride","Cold Roses", "If I Am a Stranger", "Dance All Night", "Life is Beautiful", and the bonus tracks - "Tonight" and "Learn to Love".

Other Versions/ Bonus Cuts worth Checking Out

In 2004, a single featuring early acoustic demo versions of "Now that You're Gone" and "If I Am a Stranger" were released.

In 2005, import versions of Cold Roses feature bonus tracks "Tonight" and/or "So Hot So Cold, from the Cold Roses sessions.

In 2005, the vinyl release of Cold Roses also featured the bonus track - "Tonight", from the Cold Roses sessions.

In 2005, the single for "Let it Ride" featured the bonus tracks - "So Hot So Cold"and "Operator Operator" from the Cold Roses sessions.

In 2005, the single for "Easy Plateau" was released and featured bonus tracks - "Tonight" and "Learn to Love" from the Cold Roses sessions

In 2012, various solo versions of songs from the album were released on the live compilation - Live After Deaf


"Dance All Night" has been covered by Augustana and the Maine.

"Magnolia Mountain", "Let it Ride", "Cold Roses", "Easy Plateau", "If I Am a Stranger", "Rosebud", and "Sweet Illusions" have all been covered by Phil Lesh and Friends.

"Cold Roses" has been covered by Keller Williams.

"Magnolia Mountain" has been covered by Furthur (featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh)

Random Notes

According to Nielson soundscan in June of 2007, Cold Roses had sold 159,000 copies.

Cold Roses was nominated for Studio Album of the Year, and Magnolia Mountain was nominated for Song of the Year at the Jammy Awards.

Most of the Cold Roses sessions were caught on video by Danny Clinch. A long-in-the works documentary is supposed to come out at some point documenting the period from when Ryan broke his wrist in early 2004 and into 2006.

Other Random Info:

"Friends" was originally titled "For Beth" and was recorded for the unreleased album - The Sweden Sessions.

"Dance All Night" is an older song which Ryan Adams first started playing with the Pinkhearts in 2001.

"Let it Ride" on David Letterman Show

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