With almost no information supplied by Adams, the advance publicity for 29 - the rootsy crooner's third album this year - amounted to a hotchpotch of internet rumour. It was claimed there were nine songs at nine minutes apiece, and the record was rumoured to be either a muted footnote to a remarkably productive year, or a contender for album of the year. Adams offered a single comment to the effect that each track (there are indeed nine, but only Strawberry Wine approaches nine minutes) summarises one year of his 20s.
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.