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Bryan Adams: Shine A Light - Album Review

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published July 8th 2019
Adams is back and happy
Okay, I am a few months late to the party on this one. After my recent column here about the classic album that is Bryan Adams' Reckless a friend from the gym asked me if I'd heard his latest album, released in March 2019. I had to admit that I didn't even know he had released a new album. So she leant me her copy.

Well, the fact I'm writing about it tells you how much I thought of it.
bryan adams, shine a light, album, music, cover

This is an album that deserved far greater recognition than it received. It is really quite good, and I can imagine a lot of the tracks working amazingly well live. Apparently, it did okay in the charts, and the lead single – the title track, co-written by Adams and Ed Sheeran – did all right as well. But I want to know how it managed to pass me by? Too many of these great albums I am hearing from artists – especially established ones – I am finding out about through friends or by accident. Radio does not seem to care, and watching TV video clip shows either fills you with inane pop or alternate music or old music. When artists like Stray Cats or Ace Frehley or Steve Perry or Suzi Quatro or now Bryan Adams release such fantastic albums and the media does not even care and they fade without much of a trace, then there is something wrong with the music world.

Okay, rant over. Sorry.

Let's get to the album, shall we?

The album opens with the title track and first single 'Shine A Light', an acoustic guitar driven song that is a really good way to open the album. It is infectious and easy to listen to and sing along to, reminiscent, I guess, of many of his other songs, as well as many Ed Sheeran songs. I enjoy this song and it should have been a bigger hit, dominating charts and music TV shows for months. My favourite track on the album (and that was actually a hard call to make).

I am not a fan of the next track, 'That's How Strong Our Love Is', a duet with Jennifer Lopez. The lyrics are standard love song lyrics and Lopez's voice is not a good match for Adams.

However, I really like the next track - 'Part Friday Night, Part Sunday Morning'. Its lyrics are an interesting and unique way to describe a person, and I think these lyrics as well as the upbeat music really work well together. One of my favourite tracks.

The next track, 'Driving Under The Influence Of Love' has a slightly older feel, and by that I mean it sounds like it could have come from the 1960s/70s, with a dominant piano and a driving backing track plus a decent little guitar solo. The lyrics are interesting, but it does sound like a track that I think would be great live.

'All Or Nothing' is a great song with some positive, affirming lyrics. Basically, it says, do your best or don't bother. While that might seem like a cop-out for those who do nothing, it doesn't make doing nothing seem like a viable option. This is another one of my favourites.

'No Time For Love' is probably the happiest, jauntiest brush-off song I think I've heard. It sounds so much fun until you listen to the words telling a girl he doesn't have time for her. It was almost tongue in cheek, but I still found it enough to bring a smile.

The next song clocks in at less than 2 minutes long! Wow… I mean, wow. 'I Could Get Used To This' is a chugging rocker and I'm glad it has been recorded now, because if it had been recorded in the 80s, the pounding drums would have had a Phil Collins sound to them or be tinny, and that would not work. As it is, it works, and it definitely does not out-stay its welcome.

'Talk To Me' follows. It is a ballad, the sort of track that Adams does so well, but not so slow or string-drenched to become mawkish. It has some nice guitar and a decent drumming pattern throughout. Another of the better songs on the album. And the fact that it is a ballad and still not slowed down to ridiculous levels and lacking overblown vocalisations makes it feel like that rarity – a ballad that is joyous.

'The Last Night On Earth' is not a bad song, it just didn't stand out or do anything wildly exciting for me, that's all.

Next track, 'Nobody's Girl', rolls along at a nice clip, a song that would not have been out of place on any of Adams' 1980s' offerings. A decent little track.

Then we come to 'Don't Look Back', a second affirmation of positivity song on the album. "I'd given up on happy endings/You know that it won't last/Don't look back…" It does help give the album that feel of being an album of joy, like Adams is in a positive place. It is good to have that sort of thing in music, and then delivered so well.

And we finish with that traditional classic 'Whiskey In The Jar', the only song not written or co-written by Adams on the album. This track one of my favourite folk songs… side story: I didn't realise it was traditional for years, considering I first heard it by Thin Lizzy, until I heard it performed by, I think – and memory is hazy here – Adelaide's The Borderers. In fact, I've heard it most often by rock artists. So many great versions. To this one: Adams' version is just him, a guitar and a harmonica. It is close to the traditional sound and a fine way to finish the album. A very fine way to finish.
bryan adams, album, shine a light, singer, song, music
Adams in 2007

12 tracks, a little under 40 minutes. There was one song I didn't like, found another to be just okay, and really liked 10 of them. Again, hard to beat those sorts of numbers nowadays! I just wish I'd heard about this album back when it came out and not four months later.

But if you are a fan of Bryan Adams, or even if you just like some of his stuff, you could do far worse than Shine A Light, a good, upbeat album with a lot of positive things to say and a feeling of joy throughout.

Recommended? Oh yes. You better believe it.

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