Ryan Adams: 1989

Posted October 11, 2015 by in Indie rock



4.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Genre: Rock, indie rock
Producer: Ryan Adams
Label: PAX AM
Format: Digital download
Time: 54:18
Release Date: 21 September 2015
Spin This: "Welcome to New York," "Bad Blood, " "This Love," "Out of the Woods"


Bruce Springsteen, '80's gold and clusters of folk make this a genius covers' album; Swift's melodies still in tact


Despite this being a cover album, there's not much to not like about Adams' respectable tribute to Swift's creativity; some of the productions seems weighted with lo-fi quality

Indie rocker takes girl pop record and turns it into a literal Eighties tribute

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Indie rocker takes girl pop record and turns it into a literal Eighties tribute

Taylor Swift‘s 1989 wasn’t a tribute to the Eighties, just a reminder of the year of her birth, which simply means she missed everything about the era. The album itself was typical Swift diaryspeak, but with a pop-heavy facelift and an explosive sonic change vibrating with synthpop and urban beats. Overall, the album stands out as of Swift’s finest collections, and the world knows it. Even the barbaric cynics want to say it; they just can’t get over that 1989 was a Swift record. Ryan Adams — a 40-year old true-to-the-heart rocker with over fourteen studio albums already assembled  — decided to create the ultimate homage to Swift’s creativity by re-doing 1989, but injecting his own blood into it. The end result: a highly-visual recalling of the Eighties itself.

Adams’ 1989 — a production wrapped around the engaging sounds of Bruce Springsteen and Roxy Music — is played from beginning to end in the same sequence of Swift’s original. During the process, he de-constructs the songs and rebuilds them like a playful Lego set. These become new creations on him. He takes the lighthearted New York-loving ditty “Welcome to New York” and injects a heavenly, buoyant soft rock ooze into its pours. “Blank Space” recalls Adams’ folk hummings, drifting far from the urban playground of Swift’s take and opting for an Appalachian paradise. Not everything is a polar opposite of Swift’s 1989. When he cranks up the amps on “Style,” he keeps its funky edges and hooky melodies. Its omission of background vocals is transparent, but he fills that void with the use of powerful plunks on the electric guitar. And he takes songs that were good B-sides like “How You Get the Girl” and “Out of the Woods” and develops them into Fleetwood Mac overtures. His take on the latter track remains one of the treasured highlights of the disc. The same can be said for “Bad Blood,” a song that’s remembered mostly for its minimalist direction and trap snap tracking. Adams squeezes an atmospheric radio-ready glow into the band as if it’s been hijacked by Kings of Leon serenading. And “This Love,” stripped down to a bare piano and Adams’ sweet vocalizing, drips with all the melachony of a timeless AC gem.

This album should be viewed as both a seperate piece and a complimentary pat on the back to Swift’s artistry. It should not be considered a mere replacement. In Adams’ hands, he breathes new life into Swift’s first-ever genre-shifting record and even elevates the potential of those hit-and-miss songs. It takes the pop and morphs it into rock. Those that perfer the sounds of now and Swift’s groundbreaking synth explorations might not be totally moved by Adams’ 1989, but one thing’s for sure: For those mature stubborn souls hardly pressed on going goo goo for a pretty pop queen, they will find a comfortable spot in this expedition.

We all know that Swift — 90% primary songwriter and successful publisher of her own work — will be running to the bank with the majority of the proceeds from the album sales. While doing it, she will feel that extra heartbeat for Adams’ love letter.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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