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Album Review: Ten Songs from Live at Carnegie Hall by Ryan Adams
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
Pitchfork - 73 Based on rating 7.3/10
After Ryan Adams finishes "Come Pick Me Up", his definitive song and the one which ends both performances captured on Live at Carnegie Hall, he leans into the mic and screams: "THAT’S IT! YOU’RE SAD NOW!!! NOW YOU’RE SAD!!! EVERYBODY’S SAD NOW! YEAAAAHHH!!!!" The thunderous applause lets you know that everyone in attendance on this first night is in on the joke: Adams is big enough to play Carnegie Hall now, because thousands of people have discovered that listening to Ryan Adams alone is akin to giving your sadness a spa day. But "Come Pick Me Up" actually transforms into something uplifting in a live setting these days. For both the performer and the audience, “Rescue Blues” and “Why Do They Leave” and “Amy” are bittersweet, nostalgic and a platform for wisecracks and anecdotes.
Ryan Adams has always had an entertainingly volatile relationship with his fans. His reaction to the clamoring masses still holding out hope for a proper sequel to Heartbreaker has ranged from indifference (releasing the cacophonous Rock N Roll at the height of his popularity) to outright derision (“I do not fucking like country music and I don't own any of it…I only like country music as an irony,” he brayed in a 2014 interview). But on his latest effort, recorded over two shows at Carnegie Hall last November, he not only seems to enjoy playfully bantering with the crowd, but takes pleasure in giving the people what they want, for once: intimate solo acoustic performances of fan favorites, without any ego or '80s AOR trappings to get in the way of his pristine voice and heart-on-sleeve lyrics.
One for the fans, the 2015 concert set Live at Carnegie Hall -- released just months after his exquisitely sculpted 2014 eponymous set -- showcased two entire concerts, both largely solo, intimate, and loose. This collection, released just a few months later, culls ten highlights from this album. Even in its truncated form, it's the antidote to the lush Ryan Adams, an album that, at its best, occasionally sounded like a lost gem from 1980 by focusing on the man and his songs.