Ryan Adams is a pretty unique character. It seems he takes himself far less seriously these days. Reviews and accounts of his gigs a few years ago present him as a tetchy and demanding musician who refuses to play crowd pleasers – even “Summer of 69'”!
His more recent shows, however, reveal him to be a contrastingly fun-loving, crowd pleasing and chill dude. He's taken to covering the long confusion causing Bryan Adams, Oasis, and even the Foo Fighters. Adams lovers see him as “above” these songs – acting out an irony in which he controls and masters the songs. Instead, Adams is just having fun. He's reached a career point where he can now do as he pleases.
Adams should not be confused with a purist Elliott Smith (rip) circa 1997 lover type lone-ranger. He's a guy who appreciates a good pop song when he hears it, and he sure appreciates Taylor Swift.
His latest release is a straight cover album of Taylor Swift's 1989, albeit with some minor pro-noun changes in the lyrics.
The album is good in a rather unremarkable way. It's simply pleasant and enjoyable. It would make a great double bill for a re-release of 1989 in a few years time. Adam's doesn't throw down any bangers, and while it will fit snugly into his cannon, it'll glow rather than shine.
My concern with the album is the forthcoming wave of douchebag men who'll ring friar bells to declare that the Ryan Adams cover is better that he did it with fewer producers and improved Swift's songs.
Adams did the album because he likes Taylor Swift, he likes 1989, he's having fun, he's not out to prove anything. The album is totally cool in this context. It's nice to hear another interpretation of “Shake it Off,” in the same way it was nice to hear an interpretation of Silver Scroll winner “Multi-Love” at the APRA Awards last week.
Fans of both artists are the real winners with this album. Listeners will relish going back and forth between Adams' and Swift's “Wildest Dreams,” and appreciate that both are fantastic. The chorus in “Bad Blood” doesn't really work, but the verses sound great.
“Out of the Woods” and “This Love” stand out as the low-key winners, with Adams taking a stripped back acoustic approach. They are also an interesting show-case of Swift's lyrical talent by pushing the voice into the foreground.
Taylor Swift and Ryan Adams have declared their mutual admiration and the album is a slightly strange but enchanting exercise. Adams' album is not better than Swift's, it's just a nice compliment to it.
And he should have done Red. Red is way better.