Ryan Adams doesn’t need to cover a pop singer. But this is 2015, and Ryan Adams is going to do whatever he wants.
Just this year, he’s released a double-disc solo live acoustic set and numerous singles. Last year, he released a punk rock EP to go along with his self-titled fourteenth studio album. Now, the alt-country chameleon is getting some of the best reviews of his career with a new take on Taylor Swift’s “1989.”
While Adams’ versions are pretty and heartfelt, it’s hard to believe in any of it. If anything, it proves that Swift’s songwriting is good. But you would have to be hiding under a rock not to know that, and this compliment to Swift is coming from a guy who routinely listens to heavy metal.
It’s hard not to hear the calculation in this project. Adams has his reasons. He recently broke up with Mandy Moore and fell in love with Swift’s album, then covered Swift in the vein of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and The Smiths.
Listening to Adams perform Swift’s material is a lot like listening to Coldplay. It’s a guilty pleasure, but you know all parties involved can produce something better.
It’s not awful. This is just the state of music. The guy who wrote masterpiece albums like “Heartbreaker,” “Cold Roses,” “Love is Hell” and “Jacksonville City Nights” has to resort to covering a 25-year-old’s diary entries to get new Twitter followers.
Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter @MatthewSigur.