The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

1989 Ryan Adams Sony

It’s a trib­ute to Tay­lor Swift’s sta­tus as a singer and song­writer (or at least co-writer) as well as to the re­spect she has from her peers that Amer­i­cana trou­ba­dour Ryan Adams should choose to re­lease his own ver­sion of her glob­ally mas­sive al­bum 1989. Swift, who is due here in Novem­ber, and Adams, who toured Aus­tralia in July, are poles apart on pa­per, but the lat­ter has made an ex­cit­ing hy­brid of their re­spec­tive gen­res and mostly a suc­cess­ful fist of tak­ing Swift’s pre­dom­i­nantly bright and breezy (and well-crafted) pop mu­sic into a darker, rock­ier do­main. Adams is equally adept at rock­ing out and in del­i­cate acous­tic mode, and he flits be­tween both here in his at­tempt to rein­vent Swift’s ma­te­rial and make it his own. This he does ma­jes­ti­cally on the Swift hit Blank Space, which in his hands is trans­formed from an­themic pop sin­ga­long into a beau­ti­fully stark, acous­tic bal­lad, Adams’s falsetto and som­bre strings giv­ing the song a grace not present on the orig­i­nal. Out of the Woods and How You Get the Girl are equally af­fect­ing. 1989 is awash with hits, not all of which work as well as Blank Space un­der Adams’s guid­ance. The Swift al­bum’s cen­tre­piece, Shake It Off, a qual­ity pop song, feels slightly un­der­cooked as a Spring­steen-in­Ne­braska- mode bal­lad. Adams re­joices in tak­ing pop struc­tures into bolder set­tings, rock­ing out on Welcome to New York and Style. Over­all this 1989 is a wor­thy re­al­i­sa­tion of a bold idea. Now let’s see what he can do with Iggy Aza­lea.

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