The country pop songstress returns with fourth studio album Red.
The last time Swift released an album she was coming to terms with the Kanye West debacle, winning tons of awards, and solidifying herself as a respected country superstar.
Now, two years later, Swift is seen in every magazine, rumors of her love life spilled on each page, rabid fans the world over.
She stands at a point where she has dominated the country market.
Two choices stand before her: to continue catering to her established fanbase, dolling out country-pop gems like pennies, or break from her genre shell and take on the world.
Seems she’s taken the path of the latter.
On the whole Red is greater than the some of its parts. Upon first listen of the title track, the listener feels a certain sense of disappointment.
The usually raw voice of Swift is distorted with electronics to robotically utter “R-R-R-Red.”
A real shock to the system.
But taken into context, the song transforms into an enjoyably catchy number, begging to be memorized. Same goes for dubstep-country song “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Cheap modern tricks become charming when rendered by the exceptionally earnest Swift.
Even more shocking is the maturity Swift seems to be finding. When she sings on “Treacherous”, “I can’t decide if it’s a choice; getting swept away,” there’s the realization that maybe life isn’t always seen through rose colored glasses.
Banal as it may sound, Swift begins to approach the topic of love from a more deep view than who’s fault it was they broke up after ten days.
Other standouts include “The Lucky One,” which is immediately notable for exploring the topic of her life as a public figure. It’s authentic and surprisingly moving. But nothing beats the album’s opener, “State of Grace,” which stands as one of Taylor’s best songs of all time.
Swift has a great passion for music, and Red highlights that love in the best possible way. Beautiful duets such as “The Last Time” with Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, are gorgeously arranged, sung, and felt. At the same time, pop romper’s like “22” are hook-heavy, charming, and at times witty.
Still, the album isn’t perfect. There remains too many tired cliches and concepts from her back catalogue. Case in point being “Say Say Say,” which completely undercuts the track before it “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” with childish lyrics.
Regardless of its minor faults, Red is Taylor Swift’s best album to date. While it could easily be argued she is much more of a pop artist than a country star, either way she’s making great music.
Pleasantly, Swift’s sound is starting to grow up with the star herself.
Taking on the world may have been the right choice after all.