Ryan Adams is prolific nearly to a fault. It can be positively exhausting attempting to keep up with his output, though the quality of his work rarely wavers, so the journey can be ultimately rewarding.
In 2005, Adams released three full-length albums, one of which was a double album. It's no surprise, then, that many people were burned out on Adams by the time 29 was released in late December of that year, and therefore they missed this under-appreciated gem.
Constructed as a loose concept album about his twenties with each song representing one of the years of that decade of his life, the largest portion of these songs were written in the studio, and many of the versions of the songs that ended up on the album were first takes. This is Adams at his loosest and most confessional, which is both this album's charm and it's downfall. At times it is a bit over-indulgent and Adams' obsession with emulating Morrissey's mope-rock can get a bit tedious, but the moments that gel together into a cohesive vision of the artist's life are pure magic.
The cover art is from the hand of Adams himself, and it perfectly expresses the looming doom that permeates the entire album. My eyes are first drawn to the host of reapers storming the gate of the estate, but then the soft glow from the windows where the people inside look out (presumably in terror) grabs my attention, and from there I'm unable to look away.