Ryan Adams’ second solo album, with its first single, “New York, New York,” was released just as the events of September 11 were unfolding. It gave the opening track an added poignancy and, in some ways, obscured what was a terrifically balanced album of emotional nuance and classic rock riffs. The rockers are fun (“Firecracker’) and tough (“Nobody Girl”), but it’s the ballads that really stand out. “La Cienega Just Smiled” includes a guitar line that lingers lost past song’s end. “When the Stars Go Blue” features Ryan shuttling off into a heavenly falsetto. “Harder Now That It’s Over” works through a chilling wind that comes through as a relationship disappears. “Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd.” keeps Tinseltown in its rearview. Adams would go on from here to record albums at an alarming pace, making it difficult for people to keep score. But the emotional breadth and stylistic diversity present here establish him as someone worth keeping an ear on and as an artist with something to say.

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