Artist of the Week: Ryan Adams
Schönen Freitag! This week's spotlight falls upon Ryan Adams, an alt country singer from North Carolina. That's right, I'm endorsing a country singer - but wait! The reason why I'm recommending him is because he released an absolutely genius project recently: A song-for-song cover album of Taylor Swift's 1989, re-imagining the album in the alt-country vein of T-Swift's original style. This isn't some fly-by-night side project either - he really takes his time to cover all of these songs with equal parts tenderness and innovation. Take a listen to "Bad Blood" to see what I'm talking about:
What I found so cool about this project is that it gives Taylor's songs a stripped, minimalist angle that makes the songs feel more intimate. At the same time, it doesn't belittle T-Swift's choice to make a bombastic pop album - it actually allows the listener to appreciate her song-writing talents. I've found that I can both fully enjoy and appreciate both versions of these songs in the same session. I found his cover of "Shake It Off" to be one of the best songs on the album in this respect:
I guess I have to stress that Ryan Adam's style, in both this cover album and his own material, shouldn't be strictly considered mainstream country. (That's probably why I like it, har har) I could recommend a bunch of his solo material as well, which you should definitely listen to. His 2001 album, Gold, was Grammy nominated and is worth checking out. However, I feel that he does such a wonderful job with covers that I have to share this last one with ya'll. Eschewing simple chords for delicate finger-picking, his re-imagining of Oasis' "Wonderwall" does the original track a load of justice and might make it slightly more acceptable to play at parties. Excuse me while I learn this one on guitar!