Ryan Adams - 1989
Critic Score
Based on 19 reviews
User Score
Based on 73 ratings
2015 Ratings: #572
September 21, 2015 / Release Date
Cover / Format
Pax Am, Blue Note / Label
Pop Rock / Genres
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paxamrecords.com / Website
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A.V. Club

The finished product is decidedly free of irony or shtick, and, perhaps more important for a covers album, transforms the source material.

Entertainment Weekly
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 it’s also the best kind—one that brings two divergent artists together in smart, unexpected ways, and somehow manages to reveal the best of both of them.
Pretty Much Amazing

1989 is marvelous. Except, we knew that already. Ryan Adams unearths new emotional riches, mostly sad ones, from his source material. And his 1989 transcends mere tribute.

Consequence of Sound

Though most of the tunes on 1989 are post-breakup songs, every one features a cautious sense of hope, and that doesn’t go away just because of a lower register, slower tempo, or rawer arrangement.

American Songwriter

The knee-jerk reactors out there are probably expecting hushed versions of Swift’s own bombastic tracks, Adams simply taking out a rickety old acoustic guitar and finding the chords along the way. But this is not 1989 unplugged. It is 1989 reimagined, with often startling results.

The appeal is in the care of Adams’ arrangements, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it lyrical changes and sly winks to fans, in that undeniable connection to the source material.

At its core, the original 1989 was a defiant declaration of a young woman finding her place in the world. Given Swift's pop cultural persona and stereotypical teenybopper following, it's unfortunate that so many will dismiss Adams' cover album as a cutesy joke project.

When he plays up his strengths -- the fingerpicking and strings on “Blank Space,” or changing the “Style” lyric “James Dean daydream” to “Daydream Nation,” a nod to Sonic Youth -- the universality of great songwriting shines through.
Rolling Stone

The real star here is Swift's infallible material, evidence that the country music defector still worships Nashville's fondest saying: The song always comes first.


Adams’ 1989 never gets that bold, leaving the disc’s thesis statement to read as, “Hey, look at all the covers I did,” instead of, “Watch me make these songs my own.”

It’s ultimately a tribute to Swift’s songwriting skills that two such seemingly dramatically opposing styles can be reconciled so well.

There's no disguising how Ryan Adams flips Taylor Swift's 1989 upside-down, turning a moment of triumph into bedsit introspection, a concept that is undoubtedly theoretically interesting, but the record works because Adams doesn't play this as a stunt.

Adams' entire album is a gesture. It's a formal exercise. You listen and think, "Ah, I see what he did there" and then you forget about it.
The Guardian

All most of the candle-held-to-the-sun versions here reveal ... is a strong urge to listen to Swift herself. 

I've never listened to the TS version but I do dig this. Maybe I need to suck it up and give her's a try.
A new rehash of classic pop album, 1989 but with his own version and fresh arrangement. It can be right, it can be wrong but never doubt the capability of Ryan in turning this masterpiece to another level. Love every single touch on the record.
There's nothing wrong with a cover album. And there's nothing wrong with emulating Bruce Springsteen. But when you do both at the same time, there's no room for originality and perhaps that's what makes this album so passable.
Ryan Adams and Taylor Swift are more alike than one may initially think. Both are intelligent, nuanced songwriters, capable of crafting strong pop hooks without ever trading in the more alternative elements of their respective sounds. http://renownedforsound.com/index.php/album-review-ryan-adams-1989/
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Year End Lists

#40/Entertainment Weekly
#99/Rough Trade

Track List

  1. Welcome To New York
  2. Blank Space
  3. Style
  4. Out of the Woods
  5. All You Had To Do Was Stay
  6. Shake It Off
  7. I Wish You Would
  8. Bad Blood
  9. Wildest Dreams
  10. How You Get the Girl
  11. This Love
  12. I Know Places
  13. Clean
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Added on: September 17, 2015