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Exclusive on off pressing on vinyl limited to 500 copies. This is his solo debut from 2000, recorded in Nashville in 12 days, guest contributions include Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch & Kim Richey.

Heartbreaker opens with an argument about a Morrissey song before the band kicks into the sloppy and rollicking "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)," and certainly the gloomster's self-referential sadness hangs over Ryan Adams's songs. But Adams, the notoriously raucous frontman for the defunct Whiskeytown, is a country boy at heart if not in attitude, so there is a lingering pastoral beauty that imbues the album with a happy sweetness as well. That, along with Ryan's expressive, gravelly voice (equal parts Paul Westerberg and Merle Haggard), gives Heartbreaker enduring power. --Tod Nelson

With a touch of Robyn Hitchcock in his vocal timbre, a smidgen of Steve Earle in his narratives and instrumental writing, and a heap of Gram Parsons in the fullness of his overall sound and structure, Ryan Adams steps well above Whiskeytown with Heartbreaker, his solo debut. By turns raucous, wistful, raspy, and simply sweet, Adams makes the most of a top-shelf acoustic band, including Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and even a guest spot from Emmylou Harris on the tenderly yearning "Oh My Sweet Caroline." There's little dependence on the usual alt-country twang and a far more rounded sense of textures here (the multiple vocal tracks on "Amy," for example, sound Beatles-esque), with glockenspiel, organ, and more signaling a sonic field of extensive depth. His spare guitar and stretched-thin vocal delivery alternate smartly with a bigger-shouldered guitar and throaty voice, never leaving behind a band conception straight out of Parsons's oeuvre. Adams signals occupancy of the post-alt-country vanguard--if there is such a thing. --Andy Bartlett

Customer Reviews:

  • Bad Morrissey Argument, Good Album
    Man, did I have high expectations for this one. After conscientiously avoiding Ryan Adams' solo work for some time, I finally gave in to popular pressure and purchased Heartbreaker about six months ago. I'd read plenty of reviews by fans arguing that Adams' solo work eclipsed anything he'd ever done with Whiskeytown (which for me seemed hard to imagine considering the high esteem with which I regard that seminal alt-country act).

    The much-ballyhooed argument concerning Morrissey at the start of Heartbreaker is a huge letdown. Forgive me for saying this, but David Rawlings can't be much of a Morrissey fan if he's not aware "Suedehead" appears on both Viva Hate and Bona Drag. And if Ryan Adams is as big a Smiths/Morrissey fan as he claims to be, why would Rawlings even dare question Adams' knowledge of the Mozzer? It's like my brother, Mark, disagreeing with me over the Lynyrd Skynyrd albums on which "Simple Man" appears. He just wouldn't dare. An argument about a forgotten classic like "Bengali in Platforms" I might accept, but not "Suedehead".

    The highlight of Heartbreaker has to be "Oh My Sweet Carolina", a lovely duet between Adams and Emmy Lou Harris. As a six-year old, my little sister used to absolutely love Harris before she became a teenager and got into metal, darkwave, and Middle Eastern music. I could almost imagine Maria returning to the ways of her youth were she to hear "Oh My Sweet Carolina". The song makes me want to move back to North Carolina where I spent an interesting summer a couple of years ago reading the Indie at Foster's, trekking out to Mapleview Farms, and generally living the dream (aside from the annoyance of allergies seemingly induced by the mustiness of the place I was housesitting with my girlfriend). "Call Me on Your Way Back Home" is simple and sweet in a way few of Adams' contemporaries can match. "Come Pick Me Up" is the song on Heartbreaker that most closely recalls Adams' work with Whiskeytown thanks to the fine harmony vocals by Kim Richey. "Why Do They Leave?" is another great track that features a female guest star on harmony vocals - this time it's Allison Pierce. I don't know who is singing with Adams on "In My Time of Need", but it is probably tied for second-best song on the album with "Call Me on Your Way Back Home".

    The upbeat songs like "To Be Young (is to be sad is to be high)" and "Shakedown on 9th Street" are not up to the standards of Ryan's work with Whiskeytown but are enjoyable nonetheless. And then there are the missteps. The stark "Bartering Lines" sounds like the song Fleetwood Mac wisely left off Rumours because it was plodding and monotonous. "Amy" is worse - it's darn near unlistenable. "Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)" somehow manages to outdo "Amy" by coupling monotonous music with spectacularly annoying vocals. There are some cringe-inducing lyrics here too, especially on "Damn, Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains)" - "I'm as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange" sounds like something Dylan would have come up with if he were drunk and wasted on miraa.

    Fortunately, though, the successes far outnumber the missteps on Heartbreaker and the album provides an excellent soundtrack to those occasions when you find yourself in an introspective mood. I have to admit that Adams' acquits himself nicely here sans his former Whiskeytown bandmates, yet there is still a part of me that feels Heartbreaker is not quite up to the illustrious standards Adams set with his previous band....more info

  • Wildly Overrated Album
    Reduce HEARTBREAKER into its basic components and what you have is one outstanding song (Come Pick Me Up) and five good songs (To Be Young -- Amy -- Oh My Sweet Carolina -- Damn, Sam -- Shakedown on 9th Street). The remaining half of the album is pleasant but forgettable filler, plain and simple.

    Come on, folks. This is a 2.5 star or 3 star album, at best. Even the most ardent Ryan Adams fan, in good conscience, cannot possibly award this inexplicably overrated album more than 4 stars. Those interested in exploring his discography would be better served by the slick but musically diverse GOLD or the beautiful, stripped-down JACKSONVILLE CITY NIGHTS.

    5 star reviews shouldn't be tossed around like candy. They should be reserved for superlative, historically-emblematic, best-of-the-best albums such as Joni Mitchell's BLUE, Dusty Springfield's DUSTY IN MEMPHIS or Gram Parsons' G.P./GRIEVOUS ANGEL, to name a few. HEARTBREAKER is nowhere near 5 star league. ...more info
  • too many reviews!
    i traded in my copy of _gold_ for a used copy of this, and never has a music fan acted more justly. this record's collection of spare, emotional, clever songs is ryan adam's greatest accomplishment so far in his career, and may well continue to be throughout the rest of it....more info
  • Dully disguising derivative
    Yes, there is usually an air of disingenuous sincerity present in Adams' aesthetic pursuits of gritty country-rock, but that does not take away from his unique pop songwriting talents to help raise the songs higher. In fact, it is when Adams completely abandons any preconceived notions of "authenticity" and simply follows the melody with conviction that he often records his best work. With Heartbreaker, the overworking artist is nearly in full-on Dylan acoustic mode though, mainly drawing generically unimpressive results, with truly memorable passages such as the chorus of "Come Pick Me Up" being a rarity.
    ...more info
  • One of the best albums of 2000
    Ryan Adams, for his first time alone, has turned out a classic. "Heartbreaker" comes across like an old time live rockabilly record mixed with just the right amount of ballads (or is it vice versa?). Songs like "Winding Wheel" and "Come Pick Me Up" have that wonderful high and lonesome sound that is missing from what the industry calls "Country" now. Adams isn't the best lyricist in the world, and a lot of his songs sound like he was filling in the blanks of a MadLibs (remember those?) for songwriters sheet then sang it. The melodies he writes more than make up for some of the lackluster lyrical quality though. There are some great potential hits here, but the lyrics need to be a little more polished....more info
  • Too much talent
    Being a general fan of good music, no matter what the genre, and knowing nothing of his previous efforts with Whiskeytown, I am amazed. A friend turned me on to Adams. This is one of my favorite CD's of all time. His songwriting is pure and unmolested. His songs pluck chords in the heart. If you are not listening to Adams, you are seriously missing out. Being an incredibly critical listener of music, I would place this among my top 5 favorite albums of all time....more info
  • instant classic
    Honestly, this album is a masterpiece. While it may seem a bit premature, I heartily argue that it stands as one of the great hundred records of rock and roll. This kind of gift for songwriting comes so rarely...this record should be celebrated alongside Blood on the Tracks....more info
  • Nice
    When first learning of Ryan's departure from Whiskeytown, I was extremely disappointed. I thought the enjoyment I got from Jacksonville Skyline and Carol Lynn, just to name a few of Whiskeytown's hits, would be over. Ryan's obvious lyrical talent is shown on this cd. His guitar play varies in many songs, but for the most part it is kept upbeat, with a few slow songs. This album was such a nice start to Ryan's solo career, although I sure wouldn't mind a Whiskeytown reunion. (Hey, I could dream) I think Ryan mixes in a little country style into his rock-like tunes. Overall, this is a must buy for fans of any type of rock....more info
  • personal favorite album of all time
    This album has grown to be my favorite album in my collection. I own this both on CD and Vinyl and it is in rotation at least twice a week since the first time I made the purchase. Heartbreaker comes off as the most honest and organic sounding album I have listened to. In many ways it reminds me alot of the feeling you can get from a Dylan "Blood on the tracks/ Blonde on Blonde" listen but with a modern touch. Its a genuine Record that hopefully becomes a classic....more info
  • He hurts so much!
    ....... and he writes amazing songs because of it.

    Ryan is definitely a tortured soul. Thankfully, he is also an amazing talent.

    Every emotion you have ever felt after a breakup is piercingly depicted here ..... you know how he feels, because you know how it feels.

    Buy it. ...more info
  • Best Ryan Album
    This is the best Ryan album....more info
  • Heartbreaker
    Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams *****

    Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams very first solo album a alternative country album, Adams' all time best work. Think Wilco by way of Black Flag. Oddly enough the comparison isn't too far off, as Adams' chosen genre is one that feels open enough to bridge the extremely hallow gap between that of country western music, and good ol' fashioned punk n' roll.

    Lyrically we get the since that Heartbreaker is an album of well...heartbreak (as many of Adams' albums would be during his career. Imagery of broken hearts, one night stands, and drug fueled affairs haunt this album like a bottle of Jack haunted Hank Williams Sr. Never again would Adam's lyrics feel so damn honest and pure. Never again would they feel so true and open, as if telling a story or better yet sitting as a voyeur watching the magic unfold right there before your very own eyes.

    Tracks like 'Amy' and 'My Winding Wheel' haunt and creep along like the memory of a past love, while ever contrasting those is 'Too Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) and the powerhouse of slide guitar 'Shakedown On 9th Street.'

    Rivaling even his best work with the fabulous Whiskey Town, and ever his work with newer backing band the Cardinals. It remains to be seen if Adams will ever be able to surpass this monster of a record, even though a testament is more a likely and suiting word. Often does he come close, but no closer has he come than that of Easy Tiger which even after a listen to and a comparison to Heartbreaker falls flat....more info
  • Good, but he keeps getting better
    As Ryan's first solo album this is a great breakaway from Whiskytown. His lyrics are inventive but his sound is still a little exploratory and he doesn't seemed to have quite found himself yet. It's definately worth a buy but his subsequent albums, especiallly Gold and Demolitions keep getting better....more info
  • buy this now!
    madly in love with this album....more info
  • Great songs and cigarette smoking
    Great album, and by all means show your kids the cover. He's a great artist who smokes....so what?...more info
  • Honestly, I Prefer Adams' Later Stuff
    I guess i'm one of those Ryan Adams' fans that true Ryan Adams' / Whiskeytown fans spit upon, because I was largely unimpressed by this record. I think the alt-country thing is great and all, but after starting strong, this album gets a little tired towards the end and the songs all sorta run together. "AMY" and "To Be Young..." are the highlights in my opinion and are reason enough to buy Heartbreaker used, but if you're like me and loved Rock & Roll / Love Is Hell, then prepare to be disappointed. No smack against Adams, but this one just didn't turn my crank....more info
  • life is hell
    Ryan Adams/GillianWelch/David Rawlings.....What more do you want???? i still reach for this CD for OH MY SWEET CAROLINA....i'm a lousy guitar player but that one i can do....in my opinion Ryan Adams is our premier DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH...and should be honored as such....even his crapwork is better than most....mea culpa if i am wrong...more info
  • Ryan Adams will save rock and roll!
    Ryan Adams has never been an upbeat sort of guy.

    I mean that in the kindest way possible. His music may be as raucous as his attitude, but layed over the jangly guitars and honkeytonk piano is the sneer of a broken heart, not a hearkbreaker.

    This album is truly one of the most heartfelt and touching pieces of acoustic rock I have ever heard. Adams' voice cracks a little in pain during songs like "Amy" when he sings "Oh, I miss you, oh, I love you, Amy. Do you still love me?"

    All the trappings of poppy "I love you" lyrics are there, but Adams avoids being typical because his lyrics are continuously detailed. For example, on "Winding Wheel" he sings of a "bed of steel" and on "Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman that Rains)" he speaks of being "calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange." What it all means is a mystery to the listening audience, but it's compelling poetry.

    All the lyrical honesty is backed by genuine musical knowhow. Adams [rocks] with his guitar on songs like "Shakedown on 9th Street" when he sets the stage for a barfight with an angry guitar and some vocal tricks.

    This is a MUST own album for every fan of rock. Ryan Adams (along with The Strokes) could save rock and roll yet....more info

    I know absolutely NOTHING about Ryan Adams, but Amazon is FULL of POINTLESS reviews that seem to be taking over ones that are actually about the item, so I thought I'd do a one off pointless review and say that this album deserves 10 out of 10 on the fact that it was named after Mariah Carey's 14th US #1 single "Heartbreaker" :)...more info
  • The Most Inspired Artist of the 21st Century
    A diatribe in Spin Magazine sent me to buy my first RA CD which was the oft-maligned "Rock n' Roll". Figured any artist that generated so much controversy - everything from "Ryan Adams is Master of the Universe" to "Ryan Adams is a self-indulgent, derivative, over-prolific jerk that has squandered his talent" was someone I should check out. R&R had that 'certain something' catchy and intriguing enough for me to buy "Love is Hell" (which is utterly stunning) and thus began a Ryan Adams binge that is still in full force. "Heartbreaker" is definitive, yet only one of the thousand moods and musical styles he is capable of. If you are new to Mr. Adams, start here: get in your car and take a long drive with this CD turned up as loud as you can stand it. Listen all the way through once, then listen to it again. Lyrics, phrasing, composition, heart, soul, authenticity. Adams is at least Master of the Universe. Heartbreaker isn't my favorite of his expansive catalog, but "Amy" & "Call Me on Your Way Back Home" make my knees buckle. ...more info
  • Outstanding
    This is by far one of the greatest diplays of songwriting in an age where creativity is lost. Heartbreaker reveals Adam's amazing capability of being so musically diverse. Yes, it mostly has an alt-country feel, but I personally hate the use of that word for a genre. It comes down to songwriting for me, country-feel or not. This album truly is the product of a passion-fueled musical genius. Buy it!...more info
  • It's a grower!
    Give this album time and you'll never regret it. A quiet night in with a bottle of wine and you'll be hooked. You don't even need to be going through a tough break-up to appreciate it - although it helps! The melodies, the lyrics, even the album cover - everything is perfect. Enjoy!...more info
  • Dull
    After hearing "To Be Young" in the movie Old School, I went out to purchase this album. The problem is none of the other songs have the same tempo or arrangement. There are obvious Dylan influences in the songs, but the songs don't have the muscial quality that Dylan has. Most songs start with voice and sparse guitar only at a slow tempo. At around the two-minute mark the songs seem to actually take some shape. 1 or 2 slow songs like this would be OK, but when there is a stretch of 10 songs in a row all with the same formula, it gets boring and repetitive. I would recommend Dylan's newer albums or even Tom Waits' albums...more info
  • it's okay...growing on me
    I like to give the entire album a chance before I skip to more popular song; however, I found myself ready to move on very quickly. I started listening at track one...skip...track two...skip... etc. I think there are about 4 really good songs on here, but I'm kinda disappointed that the first actual CD I've bought in a LONG time since iTunes and Yahoo music have come along did not live up to my impression of it.

    The harmonica is bland. I dislike that aspect the most.

    Other than that, I guess it was pretty good for the amazon price. WOULD NOT pay anything more than $12 for this CD. ...more info
  • The New Dylan ?
    While I still believe that Whiskeytown's Faithless Street was still his finest hour, Heartbreaker is a fine first solo outing from Ryan Adams. His acoustic guitar and harmonica arrangements on many cuts are very Dylanesque, and what a great lyricist as well. I believe Ryan Adams will become widely accepted as a major mainstream artist (since the huge success of Gold)who came from the underground;which was once the trend in the better musical climate of the early 90's ,before manufactured big label stars became the rule of the day once again.Another reviewer remarked about too many quiet moments on this disc. I think those moments are welcome, and they exhibit real emotion,feel and control from the players involved, and remind us that simplicity can be a powerful tool in music. I love the opening of this disc,with the argument over what album a Morrissey song came from,typical of a debate between musician friends, and shows Adams has great taste in songwriters....more info
  • AWESOME Recording
    I totally dig this album and me thinks it sound fantastic. I heard its coming out on SACD by the ORIGINAL MASTER RECORDING label and I pumped to hear that too :)...more info
  • Classic
    This was Ryan Adams' first album since departing Whiskeytown. The album is fantastic. HEARTBREAKER is the perfect title since the songs are quite depressing about the loss of love or broken relaitonships. It's useless to pick out favorites, because there's so much good music here. I really like "Call Me On Your Way Back Home", its haunting and sad. "Come Pick Me Up" is a classic with a great vocal and lyric, and great harmony from Kim Richey. Emmylou Harris accompanies him on vocals on the bittersweet "Oh My Sweet Carolina", which is another favorite. Other great songs include "My Winding Wheel", "To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)", "Sweet Lil Gal", "Damn Sam (I love a woman that rains)", and more. Other guest artists include David Rawlings and Gillian Welch. Overall, it's a solid album that is one of my favorites. Great lyrics, great vocals, great music. Doesn't disapoint at all....more info
  • A damn near perfect album
    When I was just discovering Ryan Adams several years ago, a friend bought me this album, claiming it was his best. Not only is it Adams' best, it's one of the most consistent, timeless, ageless albums in the past 25 years.
    There's truly not a weak track on it and the pacing is perfect. It never gets too twangy, yet has the down-to-earth, dusty lyrics that define the country genre (ie. "Be My Winding Wheel" and "Oh My Sweet Carolina", where Adams knows exactly where to use Emmilou Harris' haunting voice). "Bartering Lines" channels a young Neil Young and "Come Pick Me Up"'s drunken, almost-too-simple lyrics are made perfectly bittersweet with the catchiest harmonica melody imaginable. "Damn Sam" is a track that longing, scorned boyfriends will listen to on repeat. Rare, relaxed, pop/country/bluegrass sublimity....more info
  • His Best Album
    The music might break your heart, but the sound will enrich your soul on this post Whiskeytown solo debut by Ryan Adams on Ultradisc UHR? SACD with GAIN 2? mastering from MFSL. The melding of influences ranging from Paul Westerberg, Merle Haggard, Robyn Hitchcock, Steve Earle and especially Gram Parsons yields an exceptional, stunning debut from one of today's most aristically pertinent & popular recording artists. At times raucous, wistful, & raspy, and at other times simply sweet, Adams fully employs a top notch acoustic based band inclusive of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. A guest spot featuring none other than Emmylou Harris lends a particularly tender yearning to "Oh My Sweet Caroline." Another unearthed classic recording brought to full sonic fruition via MFSL's acclaimed Discovery Series....more info
  • a classic
    a true classic this is one of the best albums ive heard in awhile.oh my sweet carolina and in my time of need are incredible ryan adams is in a class all his own....more info
  • It's amazing he USED to sound like this.
    This album, along with Pneumonia, are Ryan Adams' two best accomplishments. Heartbreaker is one of the reasons alternative country is so popular today. The album does run a little long, and his best work is on the first half of the album. However, this barely takes away from its quality. My favorite songs on the album (if you're interested) are "Winding Wheel" and "Come Pick Me Up."

    It's unfortunate that Ryan Adams' new albums are such rubbish. I guess some artists who "have it" can just "lose it."...more info

  • Far More Intimate Than "Gold" but Equally Stunning
    For anyone who is thinking that Ryan Adams's debut album is similar to "Gold", let me stop you right now: "Heartbreaker" is far more intimate, less radio-friendly than "Gold". Which doesn't mean of course it is any less good.

    "Heartbreaker" is in general a toned-down album, simply Ryan with accoustic guitar telling stories of aching love gone wrong and other stories of life. "Oh My Sweet Carolina" is a superb example of that (with lyrics like "I went on to Cleveland and I ended up insane" haha, take that Cleveland!) Other essential tracks are "My Winding Wheel", the stunning "Come Pick Me Up" (a full-band ballad with Ryan on harmonica and piercing lyrics; by far the best track on the album and one Ryan thankfully continues to play live regularly on his current tour), and "To Be the One" (just Ryan's acoustic guitar and harmonica, reminiscent of early Dylan.)

    The album does contain a couple "Gold"-like uptempo songs, such as "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" and the mean-rocking "Shakedown on 9th Street". But other than that, it's mainly Ryan by himself and his guitar. Finally, don't miss the opening hilarious discussion about Morrisey! What a hoot!...more info

  • Heartbreaking
    God!, Ryan Adams is an emotional man who has the ability to write some touching ballads that are way supieror to his fellow peers (Tom McCrae aside). I bought this album awhile ago and almost immeadatly dismissed it as overambling, boring music by a Bob Dylan impersonater. However, upon firther listens my immeadate response was wrong

    Heartbreaker is a predomonatly accoustic effort and this is both its greatest advantage and disadvantage. Adams has 10 or 11 wonderfully touching songs that bridge the folk/country boundries like no other. However, he also has 2 or 3 songs which seem to drag on as he rarely (though tellingly) misses the mark as they discende ito boring plod alongs

    Heartbreaker is nonetheless a good album and offers far more for me then Gold. An album well worth buying...more info

  • Wow, reviews are torn.
    I'll start honestly by saying that I never listened to Ryan Adams until last week, when I caught the making-the-video segment during one of my rare MTV2 viewings. I was so impressed with "So Alive" because it was just way more genuine than anything I've heard in a while. Sure, it's a mix between U2 and the Strokes, but see the Strokes lack the vision to push their music one more step to being a genuinely good band. Part of the reason I loved it was because of Ryan's voice. I'm so sick of either the neo-punk crap or the nu-metal junk that has been filling radio. It's like a big costume contest now, with music being secondary. I heard Ryan's voice and it reminded me of Bono, and even (yes) Thom York in the early Radiohead days.

    The album is somewhat hit or miss, but overall very stron, and 1 of 2 CDs I agreed to buy this year (The Fire Theft being the other). Other than those, the last new CD I bought in the previous 2 years was "Precious" by Ours. I'm very picky.

    Bottom line: Half this album is decent rock (very Oasis sometimes) and the other half is just very well written. It's not the best CD of the day, but it's way above the rest....more info

  • When did cry-baby sob music become popular?
    As if Jeff Tweedy and EMO music weren't bad enough for the music industry. I'd rather have my toes plucked off with bolt cutters than have to listen to this album again. ...more info