Ranking the Album is a feature in which we take an iconic or beloved record and dare to play favorites. It’s a testament to the fact that classic album or not, there are still some tracks we root for more than others to pop up in our shuffles. Today, in honor of it recently turning 10, we rank the tracks of Ryan Adams & The Cardinals’ sprawling double LP, Cold Roses, from worst to best.
When Senior Editor Matt Melis asked me to rank Cold Roses, I was a little hesitant about the idea. This is one of my favorite records of all time, and like any record worth its weight in vinyl, it functions best when listened to front to back as a complete work. But the more I thought about the proposal, the more it excited me. I had already written extensively about the album back in 2011, so why not tackle it in a more lighthearted fashion? Also, weighing the songs individually against one another revealed some patterns in Cold Roses that I had never noticed before, most notably the idea of nature serving as the connective tissue of romance and spirituality (we’ll talk a lot more about that in a bit).
Thinking back on Cold Roses’ release in 2005, it was heralded as a twangy return to form for Adams, who had flirted with mainstream success on Gold, balked at record execs with the exhaustively depressing Love Is Hell, then given them the finger with the more “radio friendly” Rock n Roll. Although I personally love the latter two records, music critics weren’t wrong when they called Cold Roses Adams’ best work since his 2000 solo debut, Heartbreaker. But as time has passed, I’ve realized its validity goes beyond it just being catchier and more country. It’s become special to me for some very specific reasons that I’ll get into, just like I’m sure it’s become special to others for completely different reasons. As a result, my ranking is proudly biased. And now, I ask you a very important question: What’s your ranking? Let us know in the comments.
Senior Staff Writer