Ryan Adams 

29

When the Xbox 360 hit stores last month and sold out within hours, a Berkeley business professor commented on the genius of Microsoft's marketing: "Shortages create a whole mystique of desirability." Ryan Adams, take note. With the release of 29, his third album of 2005 (after the well-received duo of Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights), it's hard not to wonder about supply and demand. This stripped-down collection of nine songs Adams has said represents each year of his twenties (shouldn't there be ten tracks?) suffers from a lack of breathing room; then again, this is his only '05 disc without solid backing band the Cardinals, which hurts too. The title track gets things off to a rough-and-ready start, and "Carolina Rain" is a classic alt-country story song, but most of 29's tracks are just too easy to skip over. The closing "Voices" tries to leave its mark, and it does manage to feel haunting, but only because it's about a ghost, not because it lingers long after the tale has been told and the disc has stopped spinning. For that, we need to care about what Adams is saying, and we won't until he stops talking for a little while.

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