Two For the Show
Right on schedule, Ryan Adams second release of three, Jacksonville City Nights, proves Adamsâ€šÃ„Ã´s ambition and flawless execution. Similar to Cold Roses, which was released in May, Nights take the standard country template utilizing the simplicity of Cat Stevens, the storytelling of Bob Dylan, and a classic rock edge, showing his fans and the world what good music is all about.The most notable track of the album is â€šÃ„ÃºDear John,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a duet with Norah Jones. More blues than country in nature (due mostly to the sultry voice of Jones) the slow ballad tells the failures of a marriage. The power lies within the beautiful friction in the two voices, as if there are two sides to the story. Adamsâ€šÃ„Ã´s softer side is also shown on â€šÃ„ÃºWithering Heights,â€šÃ„Ã¹ with subtle acoustic guitar and unwavering vocals set to confessions.
Though initially to be titled after the song â€šÃ„ÃºSeptember,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Jacksonville instead takes its name from a reference in â€šÃ„ÃºThe End,â€šÃ„Ã¹ one of the albumâ€šÃ„Ã´s strongest tracks. Ironically placed in the second slot, â€šÃ„ÃºThe Endâ€šÃ„Ã¹ illustrates the perfection of modern country rock. A piano intro kept in time with guitar, bass, and simple drums provide the laidback mood contradictory to the complexity of the lyrics. â€šÃ„ÃºThe leaves burn like effigies of my kin/The trains run like snakes through the Penacostal pine.â€šÃ„Ã¹ The exception is in the chorus, where much like a Woody Gurthrie song, each phrase stays in a standard chord progression and the melody ends on the expected note.
Jacksonville City Nights is a slam-dunk for Adams. From soft confessions filled with insight to rockinâ€šÃ„Ã´ country twang, there isnâ€šÃ„Ã´t a beat thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s missed or a song that fails.