Cold Roses has sold 159,000 copies in the United States.
Although all the tracks can fit on a standard 80-minute disc, it was released as a double album with packaging and CDs designed to make it look like a vinyl LP. The album was also released in a standard 2-disc jewel case.
In 2011, Adams noted that "How Do You Keep Love Alive" was written while on opium: "I fully understand when people say Edgar Allan Poe used to smoke this stuff and have visions. I wrote the entire song "How Do You Keep Love Alive" without writing a word down, and I played it on piano. And I've tried to understand the chord pattern ever since, because I can't fuckin' play it."
The album so far has a score of 69 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "generally favorable reviews".USA Today gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four and said, "What makes this hard-to-pigeonhole country/folk/ punk/pop-rocker remarkable is the quality of the quantity. There's not a bad song in Cold Roses' 18-track bouquet, and at least 13 are worth instant iPod enshrining."The Guardian gave it a score of four stars out of five and said of Ryan Adams: "The boy wonder is back in the saddle."Chicago Tribune gave it a favorable review and called it "Adams' most ambitious effort to date."The A.V. Club gave it a favorable review and said it "feels fantastic--as pretty and affecting as a slow sunset."Spin gave it a score of seven out of ten and said, "There's an air of formal exercise here.... But if you can ride with the cliches, you won't fault the execution."E! Online gave it a B− and said, "Even if it is twice as long as it needs to be (thus, a couple of dead spots), we're not arguing. We're just enjoying the music."
Some reviews are average or mixed: The Austin Chronicle gave it a score of three stars out of five and called it "Adams' double-album hubris". Neumu.net gave it a score of six stars out of ten and called it "a relaxed and ambitious collection that confirms Ryan Adams' reputation as a top-notch singer and songwriter who easily jumps styles and evokes comfortable sadness with every turn."Tiny Mix Tapes gave it a score of three stars out of five and called it an "18-track monster".Paste also gave it a score of three stars out of five and said it "comes as a bit of relief, bereft of the posturing that so often attends Adams’ work.... That said, there’s also a sense of retreat that permeates the record, a willingness to offer the comforts of familiar tones instead of ambitiously taking chances."Playlouder gave it a score of two-and-a-half stars out of five and called it "A frustratingly self indulgent and inconsistent double album that pitches itself somewhere between the classic country rock of 2001's 'Gold' and the lovelorn despair of 2004's 'Love Is Hell'."Flak Magazine gave it a mixed review and said, "Without the first disc, the double disc Cold Roses wouldn't be half bad."