Jun 04

Alina Ibragimova & Steven Osborne – Prokofiev: Violin Sonatas; Five Melodies (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 60:43 minutes | 979 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | Digital Booklet | © Hyperion Records

Hyperion is delighted to present a special collaboration already an extraordinary force on the concert platform in its first appearance on record. Alina Ibragimova and Steven Osborne are musicians of searing, uncompromising intelligence and intense feeling. In his works for the violin, Prokofiev produced some of his most personal and expressive music. Both of his Violin Sonatas were written for David Oistrakh. The first was begun against the backdrop of Stalin’s Great Terror, and one senses that he drew his inspiration from the uncharacteristically dark wells of fear, despair and bereavement which were the lot of Prokofiev and his contemporaries. The Violin Sonata No.2 is of a very different character generally sunny and carefree, though still with occasional fleeting shadows. In its original form it was a Flute Sonata, Op 94, which Prokofiev had completed in 1943. At David Oistrakh’s suggestion and with his assistance, Prokofiev transcribed the work.

From the austere opening bars of the First Violin Sonata, one of Prokofiev’s towering masterpieces, it’s clear that this violin-and-piano duo is capable of the subtlest interplay. Steven Osborne is the lion, or the demon, that needs taming by Alina Ibragimova’s fiddler, dancing—sometimes ever so frailly—on the volcano. There are revelations in the outer movements: never have I heard the violin’s tentative B minor melodising as so much the heart of the preludial Andante assai—it’s equal in effect to what Prokofiev described as the ‘wind in the graveyard’ rushings which appear at the end of that movement and return so strikingly at the end of the work—and the way the scherzo’s abrasive insistence returns in the piano bass of the finale is truly hair-raising.

The slow movement is more than ever one of those ‘voices that will not be drowned’ from beyond the grave—again, the partnership is spellbinding—and if the violin seems weaker than her pianist in the spine-tingling Allegro brusco scherzo, I wonder if that’s not deliberate. The string voice is much fuller in the more straightforward melodies of the Second Sonata. Osborne is terrific in the clumsy-child piano octaves of the finale, and the spirit here is unconstrained by pity or terror. There’s a fine glide into the dream-world of the Hive Melodies transcribed from the soprano Songs without Words, where only the spiky antics of the scherzando fourth melody break the reverie, though be warned—there isn’t much of a break between the tragic dying fall of the First Sonata and the first of the Op 35 sequence.

Tracklist:
01 – Violin Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op 80 – 1: Andante assai
02 – Violin Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op 80 – 2: Allegro brusco
03 – Violin Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op 80 – 3: Andante
04 – Violin Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op 80 – 4: Allegrissimo
05 – Five Melodies, Op 35bis – 1: Andante
06 – Five Melodies, Op 35bis – 2: Lento, ma non troppo
07 – Five Melodies, Op 35bis – 3: Animato, ma non allegro
08 – Five Melodies, Op 35bis – 4: Allegretto leggero e scherzando
09 – Five Melodies, Op 35bis – 5: Andante non troppo
10 – Violin Sonata No 2 in D major, Op 94bis – 1: Moderato
11 – Violin Sonata No 2 in D major, Op 94bis – 2: Scherzo: Presto
12 – Violin Sonata No 2 in D major, Op 94bis – 3: Andante
13 – Violin Sonata No 2 in D major, Op 94bis – 4: Allegro con brio

Produced by Andrew Keener. Engineered by Simon Eadon.
Recorded in July 2013 at Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom.

Personnel
Alina Ibragimova – violin
Steven Osborne – piano

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Jun 04

Sergey Prokofiev – Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7 – Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, James Gaffigan (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:12:53 minutes | 1,15 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | ©  Challenge Records / Northstar Recordings

The harmony in this Sixth symphony is fundamentally tonal, replete with omens and dissonances that sometimes resolve but sometimes testify to his predilection for abrupt shifts of mood, derived from film music, or for unpredictable gear changes from lyrical to more restless melodies. The composer’s choice of instrumentation confirms his feeling for élan and transparency. Prokofiev said virtually nothing of the meaning behind the work. He associated the shadowy sound world with the impact of injuries caused by the War. Prokofiev’s friend, the composer Myaskovsky, confessed that he only began to understand the work properly at the third hearing. Prokofiev was a modernist and a classicist at the same time, and this dichotomy was completely personal and at the same time far from clear. Indeed, it remains a mystery to many people to this day.

The Seventh symphony is one of the last works completed by Prokofiev before his death. The composer was seriously ill in his final years and continued to compose only with the greatest difficulty. It is difficult to imagine this background when listening to the piece, which the composer himself regarded as a ‘children’s symphony’. Written for children it may have been, but it contains absolutely nothing childish or childlike. The harmony and melody appear to delight in meandering down strange pathways and a comparison with Haydn’s Toy Symphony makes it patently obvious that this music is far from innocent. One childlike aspect may be that the phrasing and form still hold on to the remnants of classicism, as testified by the clear syntax and traces of sonata form.

Tracklist:

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Symphony no. 6 in E-flat minor op. 111 (1947)
[1] Allegro moderato 15:04
[2] Largo 14:03
[3] Vivace 11:40

Symphony no. 7 in C-sharp minor op. 131 (1952)
[4] Moderato 9:39
[5] Allegretto 8:05
[6] Andante espressivo 5:36
[7] Vivace 8:45

Recorded: Studio 5, MCO, Hilversum, The Netherlands
Recording dates: 8-10 June 2015 (Symphony no. 6), 29-31 October 2012 (Symphony no. 7)

Personnel:
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
James Gaffigan, conductor

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Jun 04

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Follow The Lights (2007/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 31:08 minutes | 633 MB | Genre: Rock, Alternative
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: ProStudioMasters | Artwork: Front cover | © Lost Highway Records

Ryan Adams released this EP only a few months after his album Easy Tiger, considered by many critics to be his best. It’s a mixed bag of three original songs and four live studio recordings including a cover of the grunge classic Down in a Hole by Alice in Chains. This 2007 record was released in the UK under the title Everybody Knows.

The steady, streamlined Easy Tiger was a sure sign that Ryan Adams was attempting to straighten up and play the game, but its quickly released EP follow-up, Follow the Lights, takes this self-conscious sobriety to a whole different level, as it finds Adams writing two songs for the ABC drama October Road, then rearranging three of his own songs to fit the same hazy, mellow vibe of his new tunes, adding the previously unreleased “Blue Hotel” and a cover of Alice in Chains’ “Down in a Hole” to the mix. This isn’t so much a sell-out as yet another one of Adams’ savvy genre exercises — the only difference is, here he’s gunning for the Grey’s Anatomy adult-alternative crossover market instead of crafting a tribute to the Smiths or Grateful Dead. Adams pulls it off, possibly because the abbreviated length of the EP is just enough time for him to dwell in one place without being bored, but also because the lazy, low-key vibe emphasizes the empathy between him and his excellent backing band the Cardinals, who add warmth and a ragged humanity to Adams’ tunes. Indeed, the dullest moment here is “If I Am a Stranger,” where the Cardinals recede to the background, but the rest of the record places the band on equal footing with Adams, giving this a gently ramshackle appeal not all that dissimilar to either the Dead or the Band. The Cardinals help sell the new songs and a less insistent, strident take on “This Is It,” but where they really shine is on that wonderful reinvention of “Down in a Hole,” turning AIC’s dirge into heart-on-the-sleeve country-rock that is arguably Adams’ best single recording in recent memory. ~~ AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1. Follow The Lights 03:02
2. My Love For You Is Real 04:52
3. Blue Hotel 05:11
4. Down In A Hole 04:37
5. This Is It 03:32
6. If I Am A Stranger 04:44
7. Dear John 05:10

Personnel:
Ryan Adams — guitars, piano, banjo, vocals
Brad Pemberton — drums, percussion
Chris Feinstein — bass guitar
Jon Graboff — pedal steel, vocals
Neal Casal — guitars, vocals, cover photograph
James Candiloro — piano, keyboards

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Jun 04

Philharmonia Promenade Concert – Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan (1961/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 46:11 minutes | 949 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 1960 at Kingsway Hall and Abbey Road studio 1, London

The Karajan Official Remastered Edition comprises 13 box sets containing official remasterings of the finest recordings the Austrian conductor made for EMI between 1946 and 1984, and which are now a jewel of the Warner Classics catalogue.

For many, Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) – hailed early in his career as ‘Das Wunder Karajan’ (The Karajan Miracle) and known in the early 1960s as ‘the music director of Europe’ – remains the ultimate embodiment of the maestro. The release of the Karajan Official Remastered Edition over the first half of 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the conductor’s death in July 1989 at the age of 81.

He was closely associated with EMI for the majority of his recording career (specifically from 1946 to 1960 and then again from 1969 to 1984). EMI’s legendary producer Walter Legge sought him out in Vienna just after World War II and the long relationship that ensued embraced recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonia (the orchestra founded by Legge), the Berlin Philharmonic (of which Karajan became ‘conductor for life’ in 1955), the forces of La Scala, Milan, and the Orchestre de Paris.

The Karajan Official Remastered Edition will feature primarily symphonic and choral music. The entire edition will comprise recordings remastered from the original sources in 24-bit/96kHz at Abbey Road Studios, the world’s most renowned recording studio.

Tracklist:

Emil Waldteufel (1837-1915)
1. Les Patineurs Valse (The Skaters’ Waltz), Op. 183 07:37

Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899)
2. Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, Op. 214 02:49
3. Radetzky March, Op. 228 02:58

Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)
4. España 06:04
5. Marche joyeuse 04:08

Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899)
6. Thunder and Lightning (Unter Donner und Blitz) Polka, Op. 324 03:20

Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)
7. Leichte Kavallerie: Overture 07:17

Jaromír Weinberger (1896-1967)
8. Schwanda the Bagpiper: Polka 02:24

Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)
9. Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers): Overture 09:39

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Jun 04

Pat Martino – El Hombre (1967/2014) 
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 47:48 minutes | 526 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet | © Prestige Records
Recorded: May 1, 1967 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
Remastered: 2006, Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Legendary six-string master Pat Martino’s debut album, El Hombre, finds the then-22-year-old flashing his distinctive soul-jazz chops in first date as a leader. Accompanied by organist Trudy Pitts, flutist Danny Turner, drummer Mitch Fine, and both Abdu Johnson and Vance Anderson on percussion, Martino’s runs alternatingly dance over Latin-tinged rhythms and groove in the pocket with classic, soulful flavor. Recorded May 1, 1967 by Rudy Van Gelder at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, El Hombre stands the test of time as an absolute best-of-genre, guitar soul-jazz workout.

Tracklist:
1. Waltz For Geri 06:23
2. Once I Loved 05:46
3. El Hombre 05:59
4. Cisco 04:31
5. One For Rose 04:58
6. A Blues For Mickey-O 08:04
7. Just Friends 05:52
8. Song For My Mother 06:15
Personnel:
Pat Martino, guitar
Danny Turner, flute
Trudy Pitts, organ
Mitch Fine, drums
Vance Anderson, bongos
Abdu Johnson, congas

Production:
Cal Lampley – producer
Rudy Van Gelder – engineer

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Jun 04

Andrew Litton, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – Prokofiev: Romeo And Juliet Suites (2007)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1 kHz | Digital Booklet | 607 MB | Genre: Classical
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © BIS Records

Combined, Prokofiev’s three suites from Romeo include about half of the score. Still, most conductors who want to give us a full CD (or even a full LP) of Romeo pick their own extracts from the complete ballet instead of stringing together the suites. That’s probably at least partly because they don’t share Prokofiev’s preferences when it comes to favorite moments—but it’s also because, as written, the suites are organized for musical rather than narrative coherence, and thus provide little sense of the play’s dramatic trajectory. One way around the second of these issues, of course, is to reorder the suites: that’s, for instance, what Mitropoulos does with selections from the more popular First and Second. Here Andrew Litton pushes that idea to its limit, giving us all 20 movements of the three suites “in the order the music appears in the ballet score.”

Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor: Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra

Once again we have a case where non-musical considerations mitigate what otherwise would be a very admirable effort. Someone involved in this project had the not very bright idea of rearranging Prokofiev’s three Romeo and Juliet Suites in the order that they appear in the original ballet. So instead of the nicely contrasted balance of tempo, mood, and texture that the composer intended, we have the “Folk Dance” followed by the number simply called “Dance”, both light and quick. The last five tracks, all from Act 3, are basically slow, lyrical, and/or sad. And what on earth is the point of placing the music in the order of a non-existent narrative, since fully half of the ballet is necessarily missing? Anyone who has 74-plus minutes to spare and cares about the extent to which Prokofiev’s music follows Shakespeare’s play certainly can listen to the whole thing and get the true picture. Okay, enough of that. It was a dumb idea, and let’s leave it there.

Andrew Litton always plays the late-Romantic and early 20th-century Russian repertoire extremely persuasively. He’s made great recordings of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Shostakovich, and by and large he does Prokofiev quite well too. He’s a bit handicapped by the order of the program, because the best numbers are the lyrical ones: the Balcony Scene and the closing items featuring the lovers parting and the death of Juliet. In the fast and loud music, Litton turns out to be slightly rigid and just a touch sluggish compared to the best versions, particularly in “The Death of Tybalt” and the “Knight’s Dance” (a.k.a Montagues and Capulets). Also, the Bergen orchestra plays well, but without the bravura that we hear coming from the Concertgebouw (Chung), Philadelphia (Muti), the Czech Philharmonic (Supraphon), or (in the complete ballet) Cleveland under Maazel or Boston under Ozawa.

But then, you do get the music from all three suites here, however dementedly it’s arranged, and the engineering is typically splendid in both stereo and SACD formats. The only serious competition, number for number, comes from Järvi on Chandos with the Scottish National Orchestra. Järvi does respect the integrity of each of the suites, but his orchestral execution isn’t superior in any way, and his strengths (the noisy bits) are the exact opposite of Litton’s. So this is good, but it could have been better, and with so much competition in this work I can recommend it primarily to audiophiles who will certainly enjoy BIS’s vibrant sonics and Litton’s textural clarity.

Tracklist:
1. Romeo at the Fountain (Suite 3:1)
2. The Street Awakens (Suite 1:2)
3. Morning Dance (Suite 3:2)
4. Juliet as a Young Girl (Suite 2:2)
5. The Nurse (Suite 3:4)
6. Montagues and Capulets (Suite 2:1)
7. Juliet (Suite 3:3)
8. Madrigal (Suite 1:3)
9. Minuet (The Arrival of the Guests) (Suite 1:4)
10. Masks (Suite 1:5)
11. Romeo and Juliet (Balcony Scene) (Suite 1:6)
12. Folk Dance (Suite 1:1)
13. Dance (Suite 2:4)
14. Friar Laurence (Suite 2:3)
15. Death of Tybalt (Suite 1:7)
16. Dawn: Romeo and Juliet Part (Suite 2:5)
17. Aubade (Morning Serenade) (Suite 3:5)
18. Dance of the Girls with Lillies (Suite 2:6)
19. Romeo at Juliet’s Tomb (Suite 2:7)
20. The Death of Juliet (Suite 3:6)

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Jun 04

Sergey Prokofiev – Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 – Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, James Gaffigan (2015)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,8 MHz | Time – 57:36 minutes | 2,27 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet | © Challenge Records / Northstar Recordings

Sergei Prokofiev has a large reputation, although many of his works are seldom heard. The reason for this is that his music has a certain image, one created to some extent by the composer himself and one from which he found it difficult in later years to distance himself, no matter how hard he tried. One might summarise this image as that of a poker-faced comedian. Compositions that confirm this impression, such as the Classical Symphony, the Third Piano Concerto and some of his early piano works are amongst his best-known works.
He shows a different side in his works for voice; a side that is clearly close to his heart, since even though most of his operas enjoyed little in the way of success during his lifetime, he wrote at least eight of them, with lyricism to the fore and a tendency for declamation and unpredictable forms. The less popular of these include L’Ange de feu, based on the 1907 novel by the writer Bryusov, setting a 16th century tale of the passionate young girl Renata, who becomes obsessed by the devil. She vacillates between fascination and rejection. She can neither circumvent nor defy her own sorcery and is ultimately condemned to death. Prokofiev worked on this piece almost throughout the 1920s. When he realised that a performance was unlikely at the time, and because he was unaccustomed to leaving his musical inventions unperformed, he rearranged the material from the opera into a new symphony, his Third.

Tracklist:

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Symphony no. 3 op. 44 in C minor (1928)
[1] Moderato 12:20
[2] Andante 6:15
[3] Allegro agitato 8:20
[4] Andante mosso 5:41

Symphony no. 4 op. 47 in C major (1929) First version
[1] Andante assai – Allegro eroico 6:46
[2] Andante tranquillo 6:45
[3] Moderato, quasi Allegretto 4:11
[4] Allegro risoluto – Moderato – Coda 7:18

Recorded: Studio 5, MCO, Hilversum, Holland
Recording dates: 5-6 November 2013 (Symphony no. 3), 6-8 May 2014 (Symphony no. 4)

Personnel:
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
James Gaffigan, conductor

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Jun 04

Sam Rivers – Contrasts (1980/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 43:35 minutes | 860 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Digital booklet | © ECM
Recorded: December 1979 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg

Dave Holland always described Sam Rivers’ groups as his finishing school. It was Sam who instructed him to play “all the music” – inside, outside, atonal, swing, blues, and all the hues of the jazz and chamber music traditions. By the time of Contrasts, Rivers and Holland had been working together consistently for seven years (with Dave’s Conference of the Birds at the start of the story), a powerhouse combination of multi-reeds and double bass. Of the drummers who passed through the line-up, Thurman Barker was one of the most creative, rippling across drum kit and marimba. Young trombone innovator George Lewis had already worked with Holland and Barker in Anthony Braxton groups. For Contrasts everyone was fired up and ready to play.

Tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers (also heard on soprano and flute) teams up in a quartet with trombonist George Lewis, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Thurman Barker (doubling on marimba) for a date that certainly defies the stereotype of a typical ECM session. The seven Rivers originals, although sometimes having colorful melodies, are quite complex. However, the intriguing and very alert interplay between the brilliant musicians makes the music seem fairly logical and worth exploring by adventurous listeners. ~~AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow

Tracklist:
1. Circles 04:18
2. Zip 04:45
3. Solace 06:57
4. Verve 07:12
5. Dazzle 09:16
6. Images 03:55
7. Lines 07:12

Personnel:
Sam Rivers, soprano and tenor saxophones, flute
George Lewis, trombone
Dave Holland, bass
Thurman Barker, drums, marimba

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Jun 04

Sam Rivers – Fuchsia Swing Song (1965/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 38:57 minutes | 1,47 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © 2xHD
Recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on December 11, 1964

Saxophonist Sam Rivers’ debut album on Blue Note Records, originally released in 1964.

Recorded in 1964 immediately after leaving the Miles Davis Quintet, Sam Rivers’ Fuchsia Swing Song is one of the more auspicious debuts the label released in the mid-’60s. Rivers was a seasoned session player (his excellent work on Larry Young’s Into Somethin’ is a case in point), and a former member of Herb Pomeroy’s Big Band before he went out with Davis. By the time of his debut, Rivers had been deep under the influence of Coltrane and Coleman, but wasn’t willing to give up the blues. Hence the sound on Fuchsia Swing Song is that of an artist at once self-assured and in transition. Using a rhythm section that included Tony Williams (whose Life Time he had guested on), pianist Jaki Byard, and bassist Ron Carter, Rivers took the hard bop and blues of his roots and poured them through the avant-garde collander. The title, opening track is a case in point. Rivers opens with an angular figure that is quickly translated by the band into sweeping, bopping blues. Rivers legato is lightning quick and his phrasing touches upon Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Coleman, and Coltrane, but his embouchure is his own. He strikes the balance and then takes off on both sides of the aisle. Byard’s builds in minor key, rhythmic figures just behind the tenor. “Downstairs Blues Upstairs” sounds, initially anyway, like it might have come out of the Davis book so deep is its blue root. But courtesy of Byard and Williams, Rivers goes to the left after only four choruses, moving onto the ledge a bit at a time, running knotty arpeggios through the center of the melody and increasingly bending his notes into succeeding intervals while shifting keys and times signatures, but he never goes completely over the ledge. The most difficult cut on the date is “Luminous Monolith,” showcases a swing-like figure introducing the melody. Eight bars in, the syncopation of the rhythm sections begins to stutter step around the time, as Byard makes harmonic adjustments with dense chords for Rivers to play off. This is a highly recommended date. Other than on 1965’s Contours, Rivers never played quite like this again. ~~ AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

Tracklist:
1 Fuchsia Swing Song 6:03
2 Downstairs Blues Upstairs 5:33
3 Cyclic Episode 6:58
4 Luminous Monolith 6:32
5 Beatrice 6:14
6 Ellipsis 7:43

Personnel:
Sam Rivers, tenor sax
Jaki Byard, piano
Ron Carter, bass
Tony Williams, drums

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Jun 04

Ryan Adams – 29 (2005/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 49:24 minutes | 1,05 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | © Lost Highway Records

29 is the eighth studio album by alt-country singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, released on December 19, 2005 on Lost Highway. Produced by Ethan Johns, and recorded prior to the formation of backing band The Cardinals, the album was the last of three released in 2005. Session guitarist JP Bowersock would later go on to join the Cardinals, subsequently recording Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights alongside Adams. The album’s cover art was drawn by Adams.

Heaven knows why Ryan Adams decided to release three albums in the calendar year of 2005. He’s always been prolific to a fault, boasting about completed unreleased albums when his latest work was just seeing the light of day, but he never saturated the market with new material the way he did in 2005, when it seemed he was trying to break Robert Pollard’s record for most music released within a year. Grinding out three albums in a year is a marathon, not just for Adams but for any of his listeners, and by the time he got to the third album, 29, in the waning weeks of December, he seemed like a winded long-distance runner struggling to cross the finish line: completing the task was more important than doing it well. There’s little question that 29 is the weakest of the three records Adams released in 2005, lacking not just the country-rock sprawl of Cold Roses but the targeted neo-classicist country that made Jacksonville City Nights so appealing. Which isn’t to say that 29 doesn’t have its own feel, since it certainly does. After opening with the title track’s straight-up rewrite of the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’,” it slides into a series of quiet, languid late-night confessionals. It’s like Love Is Hell transported to a folk/country setting. ~~AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1. 29 05:48
2. Strawberry Wine 08:00
3. Night Birds 03:53
4. Blue Sky Blues 05:20
5. Carolina Rain 05:27
6. Starlite Diner 03:53
7. The Sadness 06:43
8. Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part 05:12
9. Voices 05:08

Personnel:
Ryan Adams — Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar
Wayne Bergeron — Trumpet
JP Bowersock — Electric guitar, mandolin, acoustic 12-string guitar, guitarone
Jennifer Condos — Bass
Ethan Johns — Drums, bass, pedal steel guitar, chamberlin, synthesizer, acoustic guitar, ukulele, harpsichord, string arrangement, brass arrangement, conducting
Alan Kaplan — Trombone
Dennis Karmayzn, David Low — Cello
Bruce Dukov, Endre Granat, Phil Levy, Rafael Rishik, Anatoly Rosinsky, Lisa Sutton — Violin

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