Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Love is Hell - Ryan Adams (Winter Albums)

Love is Hell

Ryan Adams
Lost Highway Records.

SCQ Rating: 93%

Love is Hell Volume 1 shook me to the core. I bought it on a Friday, took it to my friend’s apartment that night, shot some rum, drank some codeine, passed out and walked home before sunrise. When I listened to it alone the next morning, I had no idea I would spend the next three days holed up in my room completely entranced. I lay in bed and memorized the words, I sat at my desk and studied the grays of his photography. Those days were an uninterrupted hangover caught in slow movements, where my body felt fine but my heart and mind suffered from something undiagnosed. I skipped meals and classes and phonecalls. I wondered how anyone could write self-absorption and desire and confusion and self-loathing with the barreled-out accuracy that Ryan Adams had.

Love is Hell Volume 2 woke me up with wintry overcast and hustled me out into a bitter-cold January of snow-stiff jeans and chimney clouds. I wanted a girlfriend who didn’t love me, I fucked over a bunch of people who didn’t die, I too wondered if it was snowing in space. Moreover, I believed it was… December through March, above the coal-black skies of Southern Ontario, tiny crystalline flakes I kicked around were arriving from unseen planets. I assumed, from lack of experience, that love was hell. It was impossible to explain to anyone how much I loved this record, or what songs represented it best. It still is. When I pass Love is Hell in a record store, I wish I could buy it again if only to experience that dirge of a honeymoon once more. When faced now with the task of reviewing it, I cringe with jealousy at the idea of someone discovering such an album for the first time. When I tell people that Love is Hell isn’t Ryan Adams’ best record, I’m telling the truth and lying all at once.

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