Though he mostly sticks closely to a comfortable-shoe, rootsy country-rock sound on his debut solo album, Heartbreaker (2000), on "Amy," Ryan Adams displays a bit of the sonic ambition he and his band Whiskeytown showed as they spread their wings out a bit on their final LP, Pneumonia. This is no coincidence, of course, with Adams as the band's leader and the same producer on board for both projects, Ethan Johns. Johns, son of legendary classic rock producer Glyn Johns, has carved out his own stellar reputation as a session man and producer. As a colleague of noted '60s pop fanatic, producer Jon Brion, it is also no surprise that there are a few psychedelic flourishes on "Amy," a song that could have been at home on the Beatles' White Album. Like "Mother Nature's Son" and "Dear Prudence," "Amy" evokes a wistful, lolling-in-a-Summer-poppy-field mood, an acoustic folk song with vibes, timpani accents, a string quartet, and Chamberlain flutes. Adams -- voice double-tracked -- even seems to have a bit of that English lilt in his voice that Beck affected for his 1998 album Mutations. Adams' narrator is nakedly vulnerable on this breathtaking track. He is a man who has rediscovered his dormant love and wonders if his ex can also find that head-over-heels giddiness. If the narrator is the same guy on the bitter "Come Pick Me Up," perhaps heart-over-head is more accurate. Nevertheless, as the music suggests, he seems intoxicated: "I don't know why I let go/I want to be your friend/Flowers grow through my window and I love you again/Oh I love you, oh/When you laid me down into your beautiful garden/Flowers in the love of my arms/It's God shining through to me I guess."
Though it only comes as the fourth song on the CD, "Amy" serves as a breath of fresh air from the mostly similar instrumentation and production of the rest of Heartbreaker. As Adams tries out a slightly different style, the recording does not feel forced. While it may not be a groundbreaking bit of production along the lines of circa-1992 My Bloody Valentine, who needs or even wants it when you have such a stellar song?