The best rocker, "To Be Young," isn't quite "Subterranean Homesick Blues," but the song shakes its ass to the same rough-hewn rhythm and seems to have been recorded in a hardwood-floored parlor. (The only other uptempo number is a great cop of the Stones' Exile on Main Street boogie "Rip This Joint" called, with deserved smugness, "Shakedown on Ninth Street.") "To Be Young" is preceded by a good-natured bet between Adams and guitarist David Rawlings about where to find the Morrissey song "Suedehead," making Heartbreaker one of about eight albums ever to feature genuinely funny studio chatter, and the only Americana disc to reference any member of the Smiths -- lyrically or otherwise.
For pedigree's sake, the disc includes instrumental and vocal work from Rawlings' partner Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, and Kim Richey, but their contributions cleave seamlessly to Adams' vision; Harris, so often distractingly recognizable, is actually hard to hear at first on "Oh My Sweet Carolina." It makes you wish she'd make a whole disc of Adams songs. But then, Heartbreaker proves that this terrific songwriter handles his own work so brilliantly that it's worth celebrating when Adams makes a whole disc of Adams songs.