Today, David Ryan Adams will lead his Cardinals through a set at the Performing Arts Center. It might be one of his last. Or not. On Jan. 14, Adams announced his pending retirement from music on his blog. Referencing the current tour, Adams wrote, “I am excited to finish this wonderful time I have had with the Cardinals, and whatever new adventures may come after march. Atlanta will be my last venture with the band and I am grateful for the time we have had and maybe someday we will have more stories to tell together.”
Expressing a sincere dissatisfaction with the life of a touring musician, addressing hearing issues, the hardship on personal relationships, and a fear of a damaged legacy, Adams offered only a slight glimpse of hope for his fans: “Maybe we will play again sometime and maybe I will work my way back into some kind of music situation, but this is the time for me to step back now.”
Seven days later, the retirement announcement was deleted. The general assumption was that Adams changed his mind. It wouldn’t be a first for the singer/songwriter, who since becoming an alt-country icon as the frontman of Whiskeytown more than 10 years ago, has carried a reputation for erratic behavior. Notorious bouts of stage fright and a constant stream of studio work have all became synonymous with his name.
But his latest album, 2008’s Cardinology, (Lost Highway), the third to feature the Cardinals as his backing band, finds Adams seated into a comfortable groove. He seems solidified by the sobriety he found in time for 2007’s Easy Tiger (Lost Highway). This Adams, at least in the studio, sounds more focused and comfortable, which results in some of his most consistent work, even if not always his most exciting. Still, the fact remains, when Adams hits it just right, his songs are close to genius caliber.
That potential for greatness is what’s kept Adams’ fans coming back time and again for every album and every show. It’s probably a good thing it was that blog post, and not Adams’ future music career, that was deleted.
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals perform at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (5001 Coliseum Drive, 843-529-5050) on Wed. March 11 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $31. Visit www.coliseumpac.com and www.cardinology.com.