Home Read Classic Album Review: Whiskeytown | Pneumonia

Classic Album Review: Whiskeytown | Pneumonia

Ryan Adams & Whiskeytow's swan song is also their most ambitious undertaking.

This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


When I saw Whiskeytown’s Ryan Adams perform a while back, he shared an alternate title for this album: “It’s Never Gonna F—ing Come Out.” And with good reason. This disc was recorded two years ago, but has been held up in label-merger limbo so long that the band isn’t even together anymore.

I have no idea why Pneumonia is finally seeing the light of day — I can only presume some label bigwig finally got around to listening to the thing and realized what a gem they had on their hands. This riveting document isn’t just Whiskeytown’s swan song; it may be their finest work. It’s certainly their most ambitious. Pneumonia’s 14 cuts move miles beyond the band’s twangy Gram Parsons beginnings into Beatlesque art-pop, back-porch Americana and grand chamber-folk, with inspired arrangements to complement Adams’ melancholy melodies and earnest, emotional lyrics. With tunes that move from spare ballads to full-blown country rockers, Pneumonia is so superb and satisfying it makes you wish the band were still together. And who knows, maybe they would be if this album wasn’t so damn late in coming. But hey, better late than f—ing never.