Too light a touch

By Paul Rigg

Shine a Light (released 1 March 2019 on Polydor) is the 14th studio album by the mutli-talented Canadian Bryan Adams.  

The album debuted at number 1 in Adams’ native country and a huge arena tour will follow but, despite containing a number of highlights, this album is unlikely to attract new fans. Anyone hoping for anything like another Everything I Do, Summer of ‘69 or Heaven is likely to come away a little disappointed.

Perhaps the best tune, in terms of pop at least, is the title track Shine a Light (which was pre-released on 17 January). The oft-repeated hookline of the chorus may sound as subtle as a hammer on first listen, but then when you find yourself humming along to it in the shower, you know it has got to have something.

“I wrote it a time I was losing my father last Summer; I wanted to write an ode to someone who has had a great life,” says Adams. “I wrote the chorus ‘Everywhere you go shine a light, and let everybody know’, and then I just parked it.” The song was resurrected, however, when Adams went to see Ed Sheeran play one night in Dublin and the two became friends. Adams reportedly played Sheeran the chorus and he responded: ‘I really like this’. “I didn’t hear anything for a couple of days because Ed doesn’t have a telephone […but then] he sent me the verse,” explains Adams.

However the Midas touch of Ed Sheeran is unfortunately missing from the following track, That’s How Strong Our Love Is. Adams explains that he mixed and recorded the song and then thought ‘you know what, I’d like to sing this with somebody and I thought of Jennifer [Lopez], who I’d met many years ago in Spain, so I emailed her manager and asked if they thought she’d like to do this and I got an email back saying ‘yes’.”  One can only suppose Lopez wanted to see her name next to Adams on a song, because there doesn’t seem to be any other reason to be involved in this particularly bland sickly-sweet effort.

Driving Under the Influence of Love
 was co-written with Jim Vallance, who is responsible for several of Adams biggest hits, but this does not sound like it is going to be one of them. Refreshingly, it is a relief to hear some fine electric guitar playing on All or Nothing, where Adams shines on his ‘favourite’ Gibson ES-295. This all sets the tone for a bit of welcome rock on the album and, in particular, for what sounds like a track inspired by the Dandy Warhols, I Could Get Used To This.

Next up is the ballad Talk To Me, which recalls The Beatles, but The Last Night on Earth and Nobody’s Girl left this reviewer feeling that, as a whole, the album lacks the energy and ‘Oomph!’ of many of Adams’ previous offerings.

The album ends with an acoustic cover of Whiskey in the Jar, which clearly went down a bomb when Adams played it, with just a mouth organ as support, at the 3Arena in Dublin on 21 May 2018. No doubt it will also be warmly embraced by fans on Adams’ forthcoming stadium tour - and rightfully so -, but this reviewer can’t help admitting that as this album closed, Thin Lizzy’s definitive version was next up on Spotify…