You’d be forgiven for thinking that all country music is depressing and mind-numbingly boring with the amount of drivel that is circulated in this genre. What makes it even worse is that it is usually screeched out by some red-necked hillbilly crooning about where his darlin’ has gone, but that is far from the truth with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals’ latest alt-country effort, Cardinology. This genre of music may not be regarded by all as the most pleasant to listen to, but this album generally works. It’s enjoyable, easy and relaxing.

Occasionally Adams’ voice comes across like a hybrid of David Grey and Hal Ketchum, on other tracks he has an unfortunate Bono-esque wail, especially on ‘Fix It’.

The first track, ‘Born Into A Light’, would remind anyone of long summer days, and ‘Natural Ghost’ is another that is hard not to sway to. Cardinology is stylish, yet there is a problem; it lacks any real impressionable atmosphere and could be easily played as background music without anyone taking much notice.

A lot of the openings sound very similar, to such an extent that you may sometimes believe that your iPod is on repeat. ‘Magick’ has a fairly meaty, AC/DC -type start, but doesn’t really take off until the shimmy-on-the-dance-floor chorus.

If you like your rock infusions, this record is recommended, but be warned – the token slide guitar may irritate those without a penchant for such interludes.

In a Nutshell: A calming and sophisticated album, but at times the fusion of genres doesn’t gel.

Rating: B

Catherine Maguire