Bryan Adams is on the phone from Montreal, talking about an upcoming acoustic tour and the more stripped-down direction his music is headed overall.
Then, in the background, songwriting partner Jim Vallance, hunkered down for a “summit,” lets loose with a squeal of electric guitar that sounds like anything but what Adams has just been describing.
“Jim’s just rocking out, man,” Adams, 50, says with a laugh “That won’t last long...”
The Ontario-born rocker — who’s sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, notched more than 20 Top 40 hits and has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his film music work — is indeed finding a new lease in musical life on the acoustic path. He considers his most recent album, 2008’s “11,” to be “an acoustic rock album.” His latest song, “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” from the soundtrack to Disney’s “Old Dogs,” is built on a rootsy, jittery signature that recalls a front-porch jamboree.
And Adams is playing more of the acoustic shows he started performing last year.
“I love it,” Adams explains. “I’ve been doing it all over the world, and I think for the next year I’ll do the same thing. I’ll probably throw some other bands shows in there once in awhile, but it’s primarily going to be my acoustic show for awhile.
“The idea, really, was just to change it up. It allows me a lot more freedom to go back and look at stuff and reinterpret and present myself in a way that people perhaps haven’t associated me before. It’s very much about the songs and how they really were written with a guitar, and they stand up.”
Adams says “all” of his songs get some new life in the acoustic setting, too.
“Each one of them has a little bit of reinvention,” notes Adams, who’s topped the charts with “Heaven,” “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” and “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” among others. “That’s the nature of what happens when you have to make what was originally a band song into an acoustic song.
“Sometimes it’s just the swing of it. And in certain songs I’ve been playing less, literally just accenting and not strumming all the way through the song and making it almost a capella.”
The show does require Adams to do “a little more yakkin’” about the songs as well, but he tries not to go overboard in that regard.
“If there’s something to say, I have a few things I sort of mention,” Adams explains. “But on any night there’s always something that’s going to happen, that’s going to inspire you. I wait and see what happens every night and keep it spontaneous.
“A lot of people call out and request songs, too — that’s the nature of those kinds of shows. We can handle that, too.”
Adams expects to continue the acoustic course in the near future. “The latest tracks I’m working on are predominately acoustic-guitar based,” he reports. “I’m really thinking, ‘OK, this is a great medium and I’m gonna make it work for me.” But he’s less enthusiastic about another musical medium.
“You know, I don’t know if I’ll make another album,” says Adams, who’s released 10 longplayers since 1980 and handled the entire soundtrack to “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” in 2002. “I don’t know if there’s any point in it anymore. It’s become a really dying thing. If I manage to get 10 songs together I think are good enough to be an album, maybe I’ll do it again, but for now I’m just gonna put out songs when I’ve written them.
“I know I should never say never,” adds Adams, who’s planning to release a book of his photography next year and is also rumored for a performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “But at this point I’m kind of loving the sort of project basis I’m on, doing things bit by bit. It’s fun, and that’s why I got into music in the first place, you know?”
Bryan Adams performs an acoustic concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. Tickets are $40-$100. Call (313) 943-2354 or visit www.dearbornfordcenter.com.
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