Ryan Adams releases ‘Nebraska’ album; schedules Basie Center show

ryan adams nebraska review

Ryan Adams will perform at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, April 1.

As he promised he would do two weeks ago, Ryan Adams has made available, as a free download, a song-for-song covers album featuring his versions of the material on Bruce Springsteen’s lo-fi 1982 masterpiece, Nebraska. HERE is the link for it.

He also has announced an April 1 concert at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. Tickets go on sale Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.; visit ticketmaster.com.

I know, from reading the Facebook comments on my earlier post announcing that Adams was going to do this, that a lot of hardcore Springsteen fans have little interest in this album. Some are against the idea of such a project, others just don’t like Adams. And some offered a combination of both objections.

Here is a mini-review, anyway, for anyone interested.

Adams echoes Springsteen’s stark, plainspoken vocal delivery for most of the album, but adds layers of darkly atmospheric backing music to some songs, including “Atlantic City,” “Used Cars” and the title track. He also comes up with a propulsive new rhythm for “Johnny 99.”

But the most notable tracks of any project like this are always the most drastic reinterpretations. And the two that stand out the most here, in that regard, are “Open All Night” and “State Trooper.”

Adams transforms “Open All Night” from a feverish late-night stream-of-consciousness rap into a plaintive country ballad. It is really strange to hear it this way, but it does accomplish the goal of making the lyrics come across in a totally different — but still appropriate — way.

“State Trooper” is, I think, the album’s unqualified winner, though. Adams builds a harsh, distorted cacophony around the lyrics that evokes the sense of doom that was already in the lyrics. It’s the album’s biggest, boldest sound, and it makes total sense.

I’ve included, here, YouTube videos for “Open All Night” and “State Trooper.” These were not posted by Adams himself, so they may be taken down at some point. But please check them out as long as they’re here.


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