Friday, December 4, 2015

Ryan Adams : " 1989"

So it's time for me to come out of the closet about my Taylor Swift addiction if you have not already read about it on here. CHVRCHES served as a methadone to help me taper off, but here is an album to finish the job. Why do I listen to Taylor  Swift? Well after spending anywhere from six to eight hours listening to death metal and blackenedsludgecore, I need a palate cleanser. How can I really appreciate something heavy if that is all I listen to? And if that was all I listened to on my way out into the world I would be like the Hulk in my daily interactions. So it's like a reverse catharsis. It helps put on the Patrick Bateman like skin where I pretend to be normal, which makes perfect sense why he was really into Whitney Houston. My wife doesn't like Taylor Swift, she is banned from being played in the car, but this album is totally acceptable. Ryan Adams who also must be a pretty big fan as well as a metal head...just look up his cover of "Holy Diver", made a bold move in covering Swift's "1989" in its entirety and the results are pretty great.

While it depends on the song there are some of these covers I like better than the originals. I considered "Welcome to New York" more of a fast forward classic in it's original form, but now it carries an impassioned jangle that falls somewhere between classic Springsteen and Mellancamp. In the case of "Blank Space" the bar was raised pretty high, so his more subdued acoustic take on "Blank Space" might leave fans of the original slightly wanting until they get used to it. He blows the fucking roof off of "Style", it really drives and has more dynamics and emotional power than the original. This is the first time I notice where he changes the gender in the lyrics.

"Out of the Woods" is one of the songs where I didn't listen to the original as much so he had more of a clean slate to work with. But being that it was not one of the strongest songs on the original album the same can be said here. The song does pick up into a dreamier indie rock sound. Adams vocal arrangement surpasses the original again on "Stay" . He sings in higher register that emotes even better than than Swift's approach. He runs into a similar challenge with "Shake It Off" that he had with "Blank Space". He goes an almost "I'm On Fire' route with this version, which has a more restrained steam to it. He triumphs again with " I Wish You Would" opening the song with a more reserved vocal and acoustic strum , but builds the song at pretty much the same point the original also explodes. He soars into the melodies that follow this build and breaks it back down when called for. His phrasing is impeccable. "Bad Blood" was another tall order , but this time his take on it knocks it out of the park.

He is not too far from the original on "Wildest Dreams".  The chorus doesn't float away like Swifts , but maintains more of an Neil Young meets Fleetwood Mac like swing to it. I'm not sure about saying she is handsome as hell, but whatever. I have less of an investment in " How You Get the Girl' than most the album, so I was pretty open to the reinterpretation here. It's more somber. Adams really has to be applauded for pouring so much feeling into his vocal performance here. He  offer a delicate take on "This Love" , but it's hard to get the chorus of Swift's version out of my head. The oh oh oh's are a pretty important part he doesn't supplement this minimalist arrangement with.

He does well with " I Know Places" letting a bass line lead the song in and layering it with some chilling guitar. He surpasses Swift's version with his arrangement of "Clean". His more Americana flavored vocals are welcome on this song which only shows hints that Swift got her start as a country artist before totally crossing over. It goes without saying this one gets a 10.

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