If it ain't broke, don't fix it. it's a perfectly fine philosophy and one that vegan, Canadian soft-rock icon, Bryan Adams obviously believes in. Those wondering if the slightly suspect dance experiments would make their reappearance here will be disappointed. The template of soaring slide guitar, grandiose piano and four-four 'rawk' stands him in good stead, coaxing the rasping throat to hit the spot time after time. And while most of the tracks here will remind aficionados of one or other of his former glories, his 11th studio album (hence the title) - delivered four charity-boosting and photography-filled years after Room Service - will undoubtedly still find a place in our hearts.
The truth is, this is power pop that only falls short of the kind of critical acclaim that we heap on people like Crowded House, because - let's face it - Adams has never dealt in clever wordplay. The tunes are here in abundance, along with the anthemic choruses that are every inch the equal of Neil Finn's Beatles homages. But subject-wise it's the usual fare of devoted declamations of the wonder of love for some unspecified woman, whether it's in the tones of a shy acoustic troubador as he marvels at its mysteries (Mysterious Ways) or as an air-punching rocker as he claims the love to be as necessary to his survival as oxygen (erm...Oxygen). It's a cliche-ridden ride but no less enjoyable for those that buy into the dream. For, if Bruce Springsteen can still sing of diners, darkness on the edge of town and blue collar travails and make them sound like he means it, why shouldn't we believe Bryan? It's all very fine as an accompaniment to that romantic date at the local football stadium or Earls Court. If there can be such a thing.
At times the toasted croak sounds a little dispassionate, as though Adams himself has been preaching this gospel of six-stringed love so long now (this is his 25th year as a megastar) that he's having trouble really believing it himself any more (She's Got A Way sounds a mite phoned-in and pushes the formula to its natural limit). Yet using the same band over the years means that what you lose in commitment you gain in aural comfort. These songs sound simultaneously lived-in and timeless (in that they could have been made at any point between 1985 and 2008). Fans needn't worry: The whole of 11 will sound great blasted out amongst his better-known numbers and, as we said, if it ain't broke... --Chris Jones
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Limited special offer. 2008 album from evergreen Canadian rocker.Includes 'She's Got A Way'.