Sometimes numbers don't really mean much.
Take Bryan Adams' latest CD. It's titled 11. Why? Because it's his 11th album (if you count that 2002 horsey-cartoon soundtrack, which he does). Oh, and it's got 11 songs on it. So there.
Lazy? Well, maybe. But then, Adams has never been a guy to push the envelope or reinvent himself. For nearly 30 years, he's been writing three kinds of songs: 1) Crunchy arena-rockers for the kids; 2) Jangly guitar-pop for the girls; 3) Lush movie-credit ballads for the moms. And it's paid off handsomely for him.
Now that he's firmly middle-aged at 48 and cocooned by his vast fortune and global fame, it's no surprise that Adams doesn't stray far from his comfort zone for 11, a mellowish work dominated by songs from categories 2 and 3. Not that the disc is a total washout; the production is simple yet tasteful, there's plenty of excellent slide guitar, cello and keyboard work and Adams still knows how to spin instantly memorable hooks and choruses. But in the end, it's just another predictably well-crafted set of superficial, cliche-filled numbers that don't really mean much.
Tonight We Have the Stars (4:05)
A classic Adams opening gambit -- he starts out with moody verses, then kicks into gear with an arena-ready chorus.
I Thought I'd Seen Everything (5:0)7
In case you missed it the first time, Bryan takes the same approach here, starting off quiet and building to the big chorus.
I Ain't Losin' the Fight (3:56)
Adams pulls out the boxing analogies, the harmonica and what sounds like a mandolin for this slightly bluesy number about fighting for love.
Although it's hardly a barnburner, this number has a punchy driving beat and enough guitar crunch to qualify as the disc's most upbeat cut.
We Found What We Were Looking For (3:38)
Five songs in -- that can only mean it's time for a gently pulsing romantic rock ballad topped with vibrating strings and some tasteful slide guitar.
Broken Wings (3:37)
Another romantic ballad, but with a slightly more soulful groove, bigger backup vocals and some nice interplay between the ringing piano and the glassy slide.
Somethin' to Believe In (4:01)
Nope, it's not a Ramones cover -- it's an acoustic-guitar rock waltz sweetened with strings and a call-and-response chorus.
Mysterious Ways (4:28)
Nope, it's not a U2 cover -- it's another moody ballad accented with more of those lush strings and a sombre cello.
She's Got a Way (4:41)
Another slow-chugging pop-rocker that gently shifts into gear when the drums start -- but unlike a lot of Adams songs, it never really catches fire.
Flower Grown Wild (3:53)
You can hear a touch of Dylan (or at least Mark Knopfler) in this strummy folk-rock tale of a teenage runaway.
Walk On By (2:53)
Nope, it's not the Burt Bacharach classic. It's another string-laced acoustic-guitar ballad. But Adams' sandy vocal gives it a Springsteenish touch.
Way Of The World 3:18)
This U.K. bonus cut isn't on the Canadian album, but it's worth finding. The lightly funky groove and political lyrics will remind you of a Don Henley number. Only less annoying.