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Emmys 2017
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'1989' by Ryan Adams: EW review

Posted on

Julia Brokaw


Current Status:
In Season
Taylor Swift
music label:

We gave it an A-

Taylor Swift’s squad—that endlessly documented, ever-expanding amoeba of supermodels, TV starlets, and sundry other plus-ones—gained a rogue member in August when Ryan Adams announced he would be covering 1989 in full. He’s hardly the first indie godhead to take her on (Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus delivered a ramshackle “Blank Space” earlier this year, reportedly at his daughter’s request), but there’s nothing ironic or tossed off about Adams’ interpretations. By stripping all 13 tracks of their pony-stomp synths and high-gloss studio sheen, he reveals the bones of what are essentially timeless, genre-less songs. “Blank Space,” “Bad Blood,” and “How You Get the Girl” become pretty, ruminative ballads; the winsome, wispy “Style” is suddenly fortified with Bono-esque vocals and Achtung Baby-era guitar jangle; “Shake It Off” goes straight Springsteen. If turning the biggest, shiniest pop record of the past year into a survey course in classic rock economy sounds like a novelty, it is. But the best kind: one that brings two divergent artists together, and reveals the best of both. A–