It's the start of October and our St. Louis Cardinals have already settled into their long winter's nap, after a season punctuated by bouts of illness, inconsistent pitching and the oft-maddening moves of coach Tony La Russa. As skipper of his own crew of Cardinals, Ryan Adams has made some La Russa-like moves — he tools with the lineup and modulates the game plan according to each player's strengths, though some of his methods can be confounding. Some incarnation of the Cardinals has backed Adams since 2004, but the soon-to-be-released Cardinology marks the first time that the singer has refused top billing. Adams is a famously mercurial performer, alternately ignoring his fans or berating them for their sins, or making them sit through a set of Grateful Dead covers while leaving many of the highlights of his dictionary-thick songbook unplayed. But his many fans stick with him for those moments of grace: an expertly turned phrase, a soul-crushing dirge or an effervescent jam that makes the whole experience worthwhile.
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