I freaking love Taylor Swift. There are no and, ifs, or buts about the thing. I love her. I used to scoff at her when she first broke it big, but then I listened to the masterpiece that is Speak Now and I was done for. I’ve been excited for Red to come out since it was said in Rolling Stone that she was recording for a new album. This album has been a long time coming. And it absolutely makes up for the long wait.
The album starts off with the quaint State of Grace which is just a slight departure for Taylor. There are less acoustic guitars and more of a bouncy, carefree feel to this one. I was pretty iffy about this track until a few listens. This song is kind of like a hazy, slow summer day – it’s almost sloggish to get through until you take a listen to the lyrics. I can never get over Taylor’s lyrics. Cheesy? Sure. But I sure do love em.
Of all the songs that came out before the album completely leaked, I was the most weary about I Knew You Were Trouble. This song is very unlike what Taylor has done in the past – or really even most songs on this record. This one is one hundred percent pop – maybe even straddling the electronic pop line. There’s auto-tuning and funky effects. I listened to it and I snarled my nose. I wasn’t pleased until I realized this was just her growing as an artist. Where would the fun be if every artist we enjoyed stayed exactly the same? We’d live in a dull world. While this song still isn’t my favorite on the album, I enjoy listening to it – especially in the car. I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me now. Blew me to places I’ve never been, now I’m lying on the cold hard ground. Typical Taylor lyrics, atypical Taylor sound.
All Too Well is one of the reasons I adore Taylor’s music – this song at its simplest tells a story. Yes, it is a love story – or perhaps a story of love lost – but it goes through the meeting, the relationship, the break up and reflection. I know her penchant for writing songs about love is what is made fun of the most – but let’s be real: you can relate to it. Love is a shared human emotion and the variety that she uses in her songs are astounding. I guarantee you can find one that you relate to.
There are two really great duets on this album – The Last Time featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and my personal favorite track of the entire album Everything Has Changed featuring Ed Sheeran. Both songs are light and beautiful and both men sound graceful with Taylor’s voice. Everything Has Changed just has such an intoxicatingly beautiful melody behind some really wonderful lyrics. There’s light music behind the vocals – a rapping of drums and strumming of a guitar – until the chorus hits when the instruments come in as loud as the song will get. Taylor’s voice sounds full, confident and bursting at the seams with beauty in this track. I just want to know you better, know you better now. Cause all I know is we said hello and your eyes looked like coming home. All I know is a simple name and everything has changed. All I know is you held the door – you’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. All I know is since yesterday is everything has changed. This is one of the best tracks Taylor has ever worked on.
My other favorite song on the album is Starlight which is supposedly about Bobby and Ethel Kennedy – the grandparents of Taylor’s current boyfriend. I love anything and everything to do with the Kennedy song, so when I heard this song was about Bobby and Ethel, I was mush. I’m with Bobby on the boardwalk, summer of ’45. Picked me up late one night out the window he was 17 and crazy, running wild. Can’t remember what song he was playing when we walked in the night we snuck into a yacht club party pretending to be a duchess and a prince. And I said oh my, what a marvelous tune. It was the best night, never would forget how he moved. This is so sweet.
This album is really, really great. Even though I’ve listened to it countless times through, I can’t decide if it rivals Speak Now or not. I suppose I need to let them lead separate lives – they’re both wonderful albums and I should leave it at that. No matter how many people scoff at Taylor for being who she is, the girl is making some great music. She’s writing her stuff and even though it may be primarily about love, that’s okay. Keep laughing, cause she’s still selling records like hot cakes.
I can’t wait to get the deluxe version of this at Target tomorrow since it has three extra tracks. Don’t forget – Red will be released on iTunes tonight at midnight!
Everything Has Changed (track 14)
Starlight (track 15)
Red (track 2)