The Internet is abuzz with news of the new 1989 cover album. Originally made by Taylor Swift, the new edition features Ryan Adams taking a shot at the country-singer-turned-pop-artist’s most recent musical endeavor.
At first listen, Adams’ take on the album provides a completely different listening experience. A mix of angsty singer-songwriter and alternative soft rock, each familiar song of Swift’s is thoroughly transformed.
I’m not very familiar with Adams’ solo work, but a large amount of his songs on this album seemed reminiscent of other musical artists. “All You Had To Do Was Stay”, “Welcome to New York”, and “Wildest Dreams” all have a mellow British punk vibe, conjuring up sounds akin to those of the Arctic Monkeys and Oasis. “Blank Space”, “Out of the Woods”, and “How You Get the Girl” all have the smooth, folky undertones reminiscent of Bon Iver’s work. Other songs like “Style” and “I Know Places”, are more subtly rock n roll geared, like a softer White Stripes kind of feel. Only a few of the songs sound like they could be uniquely Adams’.
Adams takes a largely upbeat, pop album and makes it into a stripped down, acoustic, often somber affair. I understand what Adams is doing by showing the versatility of both his style and of Swift’s songs. I respect his risk. But I just can’t seem to love it as much as the critics do.
At times, listening to Adams’ cover of the album can seem like a chore, like listening to it is just something you need to get through. Maybe that says something about Adams’ ability to showcase emotions through the songs, as listening to each one definitely feels like it’s taking a toll on your feelings.
Swift herself has written her approval of Adams’ take on her album, and critics are largely impressed with his ability to transform her songs into emotional ballads. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, because I just don’t share those feelings. It feels like the kind of album that you listen to so you look cool on Spotify, but in reality you wouldn’t choose to like on your own.
This album would be a great listen for a break up or particularly somber life event. Is it something that I would want to causally listen to while studying or hanging out with friends? Most likely not.
Overall, I can’t say this was my favorite album to listen to. If you’re into singer-songwriters and slow, acoustic folk, or you were craving a more emotional take on Swift’s original songs, maybe you should give this a listen. For me personally, it just never clicked.