Ryan Adams and the Cardinals

Cold Roses is the latest in a string of polarizing albums by alt-country golden boy Ryan Adams. Credited to the artist and his backing band the Cardinals, it's his most straightforward affair since 2001's Gold, which seemed hell-bent on encapsulating the sincerity of his work with former band Whiskeytown. "Let It Ride" is vintage Adams, seamlessly building upon Gram Parsons's off-the-cuff style for inspiration. Other tracks, such as the garage-rocking title track and the melancholy Nick Drake-influenced piece "Rosebud," offer a moment of clarity for this (often self-) tortured artist.

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