Reading this thread (and especially the second post) makes me beg this question: why do people think Heartbreaker is the be-all, end-all Ryan Adams solo record?
I own all of his records with Whiskeytown and his solo records (save for his hardcore punk side project with Jesse Malin called the Finger) and I can't say I have one be-all, end-all favorite. I like all of the records, especially Stranger's Almanac, Pneumonia, Gold, Rock N Roll and Love is Hell. Sure, a lot of his material is sad but, it's not stupid melodrama. His lyrics are honest, his singing is even more honest and his music is filled with vibrant colors.
Yet still, something about Adams' solo debut, Heartbreaker, makes it the yardstick for everything else he's done. The album features some amazing tracks like "To Be Young," "Come Pick Me Up" and "AMY" but there are some tracks that just don't really do much for me. Some songs are just too slow, too sad and just hard for me to get into.
Then there is Gold, Adams' second record, which I think its title fits the songs. Its sixteen tracks flow incredibly well together in a 70s country-rock vein. There is a lot of juice in Gold's songs compared to Heartbreaker's. The pace moves very well and each track is a standout.
Yet all of Adams' post-Heartbreaker records get the "It's not as good as Heartbreaker" tag. There will be three new records out this year from Ryan and I wouldn't be surprised if they all get this tag. My attitude is, they may be more really great stuff from a very consistent singer/songwriter.