Bryan Adams, ladies and gentlemen. The very same man who has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is one of the biggest-selling artists of all time. He’s the hitmaker who has produced such memorable songs such as Summer of 69’ and Everything I Do (I’ll Do It for You). Yet, his latest effort shows signs of a musician whose best years are well and truly behind him. Not that Tracks of My Years is a terrible album by any means; it just suffers from a weighty sense of averageness that fails to live up against what the Canadian singer-songwriter has done before.
Adams has mentioned that this record is a list of songs that are reflective of the time period when he was growing up and aspiring to be a musician. They are, unusually for the Canadian singer, all entirely covers, produced and arranged in a uniquely Bryan Adams-esque way. In many ways, this album is one dedicated to the feeling of nostalgia and it doesn’t make any illusion otherwise. The album hits out with the distinctive pop energies of Beatles song, Any Time At All, Adams’ distinctively sultry voice suiting the song brilliantly. Unlike many of the other songs on this album, its arrangement remains virtually unchanged from the original Beatles classic with the song’s iconic guitar riff and smashing drums still in place. The same could be said of his cover of Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay. The song runs at the same tempo as Dylan’s version but utilises an impressively weeping country guitar line that pleasantly adds to the song’s nostalgic beauty. All things considered, it would be safe to say that the right songs have been chosen for this album, carefully done to suit Adams’ style.
The most alarming change, however, is the singer’s cover of The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows. What was previously a lush-string flourished pop song is now a crooning piano ballad. While the original sounded like more of a celebration, Adam’s version reeks of vulnerability. It’s an interesting change of the guard and a great, heart-wrenching listen. It’s just a shame that, it is after this point that the album stoops to bland, uninteresting rock n’ roll covers thrown in to balance itself against the more poppy songs on the album. C’mon Everybody originally by Eddie Cochran and Led Zeppelin’s You Shook Me are uninspired covers of the originals and certainly don’t qualify as worthy successors.
So, while Adams’ latest offering certainly isn’t a terrible one, it isn’t brilliant either. The singer gives us some interesting renditions of some pop classics whereas the others will just cause you to shrug your shoulders. In some parts, even, it feels lazy and uninspired. Nonetheless, Adams’ album is full of nostalgia and some good covers so those who love their 60’s-70’s pop and are interested in hearing a new take on those songs may want to delve in.