As Adams continues to fly from the shelter of his sometime backing band to less restrictive solo recordings, it becomes clearer that, with band in tow, he has to make concessions so his friends can keep up.
Solo releases Love Is Hell and Easy Tiger have marked the high points of the last four years. Here, however, the turgid, full-band bombast of the likes of Magick, or aimless country-rockisms of Let Us Down Easy see Adams shrink into a shadow of his former self. The songs just aren’t there, the effect a far cry from the Grateful Dead-cum-Sonic Youth Adams hears in his head.
Thankfully, he gets these low points out of the way in the first half. Bottom-heavy Cardinology may be but, if you make it to the other side, you’ll find some gems. Nothing quite reaches magnificent (closer Stop nearly does, perhaps being one of the best modern age songs to address addiction and rehab), but Crossed Out Name, Sink Ships and Evergreen have the right mix of emotion and atmosphere that you feel the album has been striving for. The Cardinals (when you can hear them) play it low-key, Adams soars and it becomes worth it in the end.