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Bryan Adams | Shine a Light

The Canadian superstar's latest offering ticks all the required boxes — as always.

No matter how you feel about Bryan Adams and his music, you have to hand it to the guy. He’s somebody who knows exactly what he’s good at: Crafting hooky pop-rock singles and romantic power ballads. And he’s done it consistently and effectively for 40 years, pretty much without fail. You can call that dependable if you’re a fan — or predictable if you aren’t. Either way, you likely won’t be surprised to learn that after all that time, Adams isn’t about to start veering wildly out of his creative lane on his 14th studio album Shine a Light. Like the rest of his catalogue, this dozen-song set ticks all the required boxes. There are a few crunchy riff-rockers. Some twangy, poppier numbers. A pair of old-school raveups. A couple of moodier romantic numbers. And all of them showcase his unflagging sense of melody, innate ability to balance contemporary and classic influences, and enduringly endearing raspy pipes. It is not without its notable moments, of course: The strummy, shimmery and soaring title cut was co-written with Ed Sheeran. The slow-grooving That’s How Strong Our Love Is co-stars Jennifer Lopez, of all people — and she does a perfectly fine job of it. All or Nothing starts off sounding like an AC/DC homage. And the album closes with an acoustic cover of the endlessly covered Celtic classic Whiskey in the Jar. None of it is likely to make you (or anyone else) think differently about Adams. But it does keep the proceedings interesting enough to make Shine a Light a reasonably memorable entry in Adams’ catalogue — without being distracting enough to turn off those who depend on him to be dependable.

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