Room Service

Bryan Adams

Mercury Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Over 20 years since he first came into pop music's line of vision, and over a decade since he re-invented himself as the master of the movie ballad, Canadian rocker Bryan Adams seems to be stuck at a career crossroad.

His latest CD, Room Service (which is finally seeing release in the States seven months after its release in Canada), finds Adams uncertain as to where he wants to take his music next -- and that indecision is what keeps this album from becoming a great one. Adams still has the heart of a rocker, but he doesn't seem to want to turn his back on the ballads -- no problem, if only the ballads had more of a pull on the ol' heartstrings. In the end, this disc smacks of what could have been.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Make no mistake, Adams still knows how to pull some surprises out of his road-worn bag, even after a quarter-century on the road. (And, boy, doesn't that make you feel old?) Tracks like "She's A Little Too Good For Me," "Right Back Where I Started From" and the title track all have more than a little snap to them, even if they aren't of the same caliber as his classics like "Cuts Like A Knife" or "This Time." Still, these songs show that Adams has lost very little of his power over the years, and these tracks may still turn out to be worthy inclusions in his catalog of classic tracks.

Yet there are times when that punch is sorely lacking. Tracks like "East Side Story," "Not Romeo Not Juliet" and "Open Road" fail to maintain the power of this disc. Unfortunately for Adams, the disappointments tend to weaken the ground he gains on the powerful tracks.

Likewise, the ballads on Room Service prove to be a bit of a letdown when compared to his famous, albeit overplayed, tracks of old. Songs like "Why Do You Have To Be So Hard To Love," "Flying" and the leadoff track "This Side Of Paradise" (the latter less of a ballad than a AOR-friendly number) almost feature Adams sounding a bit tired and confused, as if he's not totally sure that this is the way his career should be headed at this stage in the game.

Still, it has to be noted that any artist who can pump out even some quality material, especially after 25 years and a slew of ups and downs, deserve some notice, and Room Service does feature some of Adams's best work in some time. (Never mind the fact that this is Adams's first studio release in about seven years.) It's just that Room Service tends to try and tread the line between all-out rockers and radio-safe pseudo-ballads a little too much, and in the end, the album as a whole suffers. It's not that Adams should give up ballads, it's just that this disc almost begged for Adams to cut loose with the rockin' tracks, to hell with playing it safe. Here's hoping that Adams does take a little more of a risk next time around -- he'll surely be able to take the strengths on this disc and push them into the stratosphere.

Rating: C+

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© 2005 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.