December 10, 2015 Ryan Adams – 1989 (Album Review)
Multi-talented singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has been a fixture in popular music for well-over two decades now. A musician, producer, poet, and painter, Adams once fronted the Country Rock band Whiskeytown, but went solo back in 2000 with his debut record, Heartbreaker. The start of something new and exciting, his success blossomed with 2001’s Gold, which topped charts across the country. Since releasing thirteen more solo albums consistently for years, Adams has stood strong with charted record after charted record. Interestingly, the American singer-songwriter was compelled by Taylor Swift’s mega album 1989, and, as a result, decided to record a track by track cover of the material. His own interpretation of the Pop Album of the Year, 1989 is the fifteenth full-length studio album from Adams released on September 21st through Pax-Am Records, and it is bound to strike fans interest.
“Welcome to New York” begins with seagulls shouting before the acoustic guitar sets in. With the band in the background, Adams opens up the album with a welcome to his version of 1989, even if the lyrics of this song are more of a welcome to New York. Then “Blank Space” introduces the listener to an open field, still and simple. The song is a very melancholic one, but also beautiful, carrying hope. Adams’ version of “Style” is a catchy and thriving one as the chorus is easy to sing along and the verses animate as well.
From catchy and thriving Rock song back to a pure song, only accompanied by an acoustic guitar, “Out of the Woods” is a calming and slightly sad song with lyrics that dig deep in the listener’s’ heart and soul. The album continues with a thriving rhythm that will pull the listener in and “All You Had to Do Was Stay” is a loud song that shouts out the message to the world. “Shake It Off” is a thriving song with a strong clicking rhythm which sounds like a metronome. Thoroughly different than Swift’s upbeat edition of the song, Adam’s is a soft song that gets the listener to think about life and its worries. Continuing with that mood, “I Wish You Would” continues on the album and shows Adams brings quite some thoughts and toughness into the music. This is in contrast to the so soft and innocent, even free of worries versions performed originally by Swift.
The hit single that drags the listener onto the dance floor in the original version, is much sadder in Adams’ version of “Bad Blood.” This cut is transformed only by the music that accompanies the vocals. The rhythm of the vocals have not changed, only what accompanies them as they revealed the true color of the lyrics. Furthermore, “Wildest Dreams” sounds as if it has always been a Country song. The instructions to “How You Get the Girl” sound quite sad and exhausting. Thereafter, Adams’ interruption of “This Love” is accompanied by his vocals with a piano. It is a beautiful love song that could get the listener to bring out some tears. Picking up the speed a bit again, “I Know Places” prepares the listener for the end of the album, clearing out all the pain and sorrow the previous songs might have brought along. Finally, “Clean” brings back the Country music one last time with catchy rhythms and pure lyrics.
Ryan Adams’ version of 1989 sounds much more serious and grown up than the original by Swift. The entire album has its main focus on the acoustic guitar. Ryan Adams tried to make sure to create a version of the album that fits into the year 1989, with its sound and style, and succeeded. The album could have very well been released back then. To cover one of the hit albums of the year is a sweet idea, especially when it introduces the music to a different genre, like it happened here. Simply put, this Pop album is taken not only to the singer-songwriter genre, but also the Rock genre, and making it a hit there as well. Let’s see what Adams comes with next, maybe Swift will cover one of his releases. Until then, CrypticRock gives this album 3.5 out of 5 stars.