“Ryan Adams? Who’s that?” -Says almost every teenager this week as Adams’ album 1989 hit the web. When I first heard Ryan Adams was going to be covering Taylor Swift’s entire album, I knew it would be beautiful, because her lyrical content is extremely strong, especially on this album. But I expected a fully acoustic album from start to finish, instead, Adams completely re-vamped each song, truly making it his own.
With Bono-like vocals, 1989 is a little bit country, a little bit rock, and even a little bit folk. Songs like “Style” take on a whole new level of rock, that you don’t hear in your head when listening to Swift’s version. While the uppity “Shake It Off” is transformed into a soft easy-going song that you could sip your Chai Tea too at a nearby corner Starbucks. Soft electric guitars cruise through the entire album with subtle grace and beauty. “Bad Blood” remains almost the exact same but is transformed into an acoustic version, keeping a similar beat.
I have to applaud Adams, for following what I’d like to call a “passion project”. I can only imagine how difficult this was to work on. You would be constantly reminded of the original versions, which could be extremely distracting.
Adams recently told Zane Lowe on his Apple Music radio show, that he’s been a Swift fan for a while, “A lot of those songs are pretty flawless, they’re so well written, they’re so clean.” His recent divorce with actress/singer Mandy Moore most likely contributed to his newfound love for poetic lyrics, as heard in pretty much every Swift song. Once Adams set his mind to this project, he did it, “I bought a four track cassette recorder and I was like, ‘I’m gonna make 1989 like Nebraska style…Just acoustic guitar, bunch of spring reverb, just me.”
He truly made 1989 his.