another year, another handful of ryan adams releases. now, say what you will about the whiskeytown records (i’ll say they were mostly patchy), but they did hint at, if nothing else, an individual voice. to be sure, the drunken fuck-up is not a new archetype but at the very least one got the sense that adams put something of his self in his words.

but ever since he’s been bought up by the major label machinery, dated winona, been welcomed into the fold by rock critics, and met his idols, he’s attempted to fill voids and pay homage — i admit to buying into it now and again because, as a classic rock guy, even i can only listen to captain fantastic and the brown dirty cowboy so many times. by turns, he’s bob dylan, now van morrison. on “so alive,” he’s early u2 — he is friends with the strokes, after all — but then he’s morrissey, ca. bona drag.

some might herald this as change, as a breakthrough: “he’s never tried to be more than one rock icon in the same song!” me, i hear the edge playing “suedehead”; steven patrick beating his chest and wrapping his arms around the world. there is total disconnect between verse and chorus that no pre-chorus or bridge could sumount. but it’s the details that bother most, the ice-pick guitar lines and the catch-in-the-throat vocals on the verses, especially. someone is sure to be pleased by this, ryan’s accountant for one, maybe another hollywood starlet (i hear tara reid’s single.) but i, for one, am left wondering who the hell does ryan adams think he is? or, perhaps, more to the point: just who is ryan adams?