Like so much of Adam's output much of Forever Valentine is full of melancholy and heartbreak. The guy just knows how to write a sad song. My favorites are when he matches the mournful lyrics with music and melodies that elevate the sad bastard lyrics into something more. Songs like "Anyone But Me (aka Dial Tone)" retain the depths of sorrow, but are also a great deal of fun to listen to, and sing along.
Not all is so depressing, on "Rays of Light" they unleash their inner punk rockers and spill loud, distorted guitars all over the place. It is a hint of what would come years later when Ryan unleashed his Strokes-inspired album Rock N Roll.
Forever Valentine shows just how amazingly talented Ryan Adams is - who else would record a full album this good, only to leave most of it sitting on shelf for all eternity? It is also a great reminder of what a lovely voice Caitlin Cary has and makes me wonder why she hasn't found the success her (however brief) musical partner has had. Ryan Adams is currently retired from music. Potentially he has released everything he is going to release. If all you have is his officially released albums, you really are missing out. Go digging online and you can find so much more. Hopefully he'll be me and those sandwiches, I might give them up for a time, but I always come back for more.