Review Corner: Ryan Adams’ 1989 cover album

(Source: PaxAmericana Recording Company)
(Source: PaxAmericana Recording Company)

It’s an amazing version, Taylor Nation.

“It’s not a reimagining or a reconstruction at all,” Ryan Adams tells Rolling Stone. “It’s a parallel universe. That’s how I think of it. We’re creating an alternate universe, like in Marvel Comics.” This response from Ryan Adams is all I’m going to quote from that article, but you can read that original article here.

And just like an alternate universe where you create a different version of something, the success and popularity of that version is owed first to its original author. Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who does want to sing the praises to this album, we have to start with a clarification. 1989 was already an amazing pop album with an 80’s vibe. Ryan Adams’ version of 1989 is also an amazing album, more tending to rock than pop, an amazing take of Taylor’s work. Don’t be concerned about feeling like you’re betraying Taylor. It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s going to be your favorite thing for a while.

Take some time off in a quiet room, grab it from iTunes, and listen away.

When it started, Welcome To New York was a rock song that seemed more at home in a Bruce Springsteen concert. The guitars in Wildest Dreams turn it into classic rock material, the kind that you rise the volume in the radio to listen while cruising. I want to slow dance to I Know PlacesStyle has a new dimension and depth and rock flavour. How You Get The Girl jumps a lot more at you with this echo effect that jumps at you and might be my new favorite version of the song for a while. Out Of The Woods goes really out there like a different genre unto itself. This Love suddenly is a new song, it’s like you went in expecting soft illumination and it’s bright and shiny. Bad Blood becomes a ballad, with fitting angst added to it.

All throughout the album, the instrumentality has been brought forward. It’s almost like a live version. The strings have a little more presence and the drums have more of an aftertaste. It’s the dish that you love turned into a sweet and sour concoction, or your dessert of choice with some exotic tropical liquor added for zest. I love that there’s a little musical aftertaste. It’s like the songs have a kick. It’s like there’s a bit of musical alcoholic content added.

It’s not perfect. In Ryan’s 1989, Taylor’s bridges don’t have that magical epiphany at the very top, that triumphant glory that makes her your champion. But that doesn’t mean the songs don’t have power. You just can tell the difference in style. I have to say that I didn’t see positive improvement in Clean though. The original one has so much magic that this version seems like a dimmer take on that amazing song. I can tell because after listening to it I had to queue up the original one.

The album is more than worth listening to. You need to own this one. You can find it on iTunes.

Coming up in the Calendar!

(Sources:, iTunes, Rolling Stone magazine)