Rolling Stone - No. 984, p.1483.5 stars out of 5
- "...[A]n unadulterated return to form..."
Personnel: Ryan Adams (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano); Jon Graboff (various instruments, background vocals); John P. Bowersock (electric guitar); David Gold (violin, viola); Michael Panes, Connie Ellison, Mary Kathryn Van Osdale, Claudia Chopek, Carl Gorodetzky, Pamela Sixfin, Alan Umstead, David Angell, Catherine Umstead (violin); Jim Grosjean, Kris Wilkinson, Gary VanOsdale (viola); Julia Kent, Bob Mason , Carole Rabinowitz-Neuen (cello); Glenn Patscha (piano, background vocals); Joe McGinty (piano); Catherine Popper (keyboards, bass instrument, background vocals); Brad Pemberton (drums); Byron Isaacs (background vocals); Norah Jones (vocals, piano).
Audio Mixers: Ryan Adams; Tom Schick.
Recording information: Emerald Studios, Nashville, TN; Lono Studios, New York, NY.
Photographer: Danny Clinch.
Ryan Adams's sophomore album with his Cardinals backing band, and his second studio offering of 2005, JACKSONVILLE CITY NIGHTS finds the ever-prolific singer/songwriter in his twangy, Gram Parsons-inspired persona. In fact, on "Dear John," jazz/pop superstar Norah Jones plays Emmylou Harris to Adams's Parsons, as the two settle into a slow, smoky duet.
While JACKSONVILLE has an energetic moment or two ("The Hardest Part"), it never wanders anywhere near Adams's amped-up ROCK N ROLL territory. In general, this is melancholy, down-tempo alt-country, which, given Adams's past in Whiskeytown, explains why the performer sounds so at ease here. "A Kiss Before I Go" begins the album on a wistful note, setting the tone with barroom piano lines and weepy pedal-steel work. On "Hardest Way to Fall," Adams indulges in a sauntering Dylan-like vibe, while "September" proves to be almost haunting in its minimalism. Although Adams's artistic reach occasionally exceeds his grasp, JACKSONVILLE CITY NIGHTS finds the artist playing to his strengths, resulting in one of his most consistent records.