At one time or another, many people have thought to themselves: “Man, I really like the catchiness and lyricism of Taylor Swift, but I can’t stand the ridicule from my friends anymore”. Well have no fear, because Ryan Adams has made it possible for you to keep your indie cred. The long-time established folk rock star recently did a full cover of Taylor Swift’s incredibly massive hit 1989 with the same name. Adams claims to have gained a special attachment to the album during the process of his divorce to the actress Mandy Moore, saying that “There’s just a joy to 1989”. After releasing multiple snippets from the album in August, the album was released in full on September 21st, 2015. Adams decided to bring a classic rock approach to the album, describing his version of 1989 as being in the style of The Smiths and Bruce Springsteen. The album is projected to do very well in sales and on the charts in its first week.
Vocally, instrumentally and stylistically, Adams does a fantastic job of keeping the stripped down melodies and moods of the songs, while making the songs entirely his own in an incredibly interesting way. For example, his cover of “Bad Blood” is done as a folk rock ballad, with mostly acoustic guitars and a soft, yet prominent rhythm section. Also, his version of “Style” takes a more classic, alternative rock approach to it, with prominent electric guitars and a deceptively fast tempo. While this album wears its sleeve, showing very clear flavors The Smiths, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and other blues, folk, and classic rock influences, this album is most definitely the work of Ryan Adams. He manages to combine his influences into something that he created on his own. He turns this shiny, glitzy pop album into something entirely different, while still maintaining its vital sensibilities in an absolutely ingenious way.
Lyrically, the only thing that you can really say is the only thing you really have to say: they were written by Taylor Swift. Regardless of any indictment people may have against the pop star, there is absolutely no denying her songwriting prowess. She is a lyrical superstar, who can evoke countless emotions in the listeners , and is so versatile that Adams could perform them with ease. For example, Adams does a great job of painting the picture of losing love through these lines from “Wildest Dreams”: “Say you’ll remember me, Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe, Red lips and rosy cheeks, Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams”. He also can perform Swift’s much more poppy lines in his own unique way, such as the lines from “Shake it Off”: “I go on too many dates, But I can’t make them stay, At least that’s what people say, That’s what people say, But I keep cruising, Can’t stop, won’t stop moving, It’s like I got this music, In my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright”. The fact that Adams performed these songs so well is really a testament to Swift’s original material that he had to work with.
This album is a really fun listen, even you don’t like Taylor Swift. Ryan Adams makes these songs unique in his own way, and does an awesome job doing it. 1989 is a 7.5/10, this album is really enjoyable, and has a lot of tracks worth listening to again.