“When we go crashing down, we come back every time, 'cause we never go out of style, we never go out of style” ~ Taylor Swift
Ryan Adams' cover of Taylor Swift's 1989 album is good. Really, really good. And, possibly more importantly – it has people talking. Talking about music as something vital and important. For the sake of itself.
Adams visits the material by way of Springsteen and does so in a way that is neither heavy-handed nor ironic. I've only listened to it once, but feel the record stands up on its own merit - I found it to be immediately enjoyable. Adams makes intensely mature melodic choices – on “Shake It Off” for example, it’s remarkable which hooks he chooses to sing, and which hooks he chooses to omit. He chooses to simply say “haters gonna hate”, opting not to tag that line with “hate, hate, hate”… And in that choice, he makes the line more lyrically poignant. There is also plenty of ear candy happening musically, which I plan to enjoy on future listens...
Critics may choose to pan Adams for not taking more risks on this recording, and I feel that is a fair criticism, particularly for the more popular tracks on this album. However, “Out Of The Woods” may be a fine example of Adams' less-is-more, but-really-is-more decision-making. Adams’ interpretation may not be risky, but it is beautiful in that it extrapolates the pop melodic wizardry of Swift, and makes it potentially more heartbreaking by way of earnest repetition.
Legendary producer and musician Jim Dickinson once told me that production is like the clothing on a beautiful girl. You can change the production of a song all day long, and if the song is beautiful it will stay beautiful... I believe Dickinson would appreciate what Adams has done to adorn this particular beauty...