Album Review: Taylor Swift Grows Up and Moves On with Red.
There’s no denying that Taylor Swift has positioned herself as a powerhouse in Country Music. So, I think its fair to say that there was a pretty substantial amount of anticipation surrounding her new album, Red, and its release. For the past few years, Swift has been branching out and evolving her musical style, and based on the single releases preceding the album’s debut (today! October 22nd), it was a little unclear to me whether or not Red was going to be a country album or not. Despite its iTunes categorization in the “Country” genre, my short answer is no, this isn’t a country album. However, if you want the long answer and why I don’t think this is a negative thing, read my complete review below.
Since the release of her first album, Swift has clearly been on some kind of a musical journey of self-exploration, sharing all of her insights, heartbreaks and hopes with her fans. In a recent interview with a CBS news affiliate, Taylor described the progression of her musical career and album releases saying the following:
“Fearless was about the breakthrough and all the discovery… with Speak Now, I felt like I really had something to prove, because that last album was so big. I wanted to write the record by myself, to prove to myself that I could do it… with Red…I wanted to learn. I wanted to take my comfort zone–which at that point was writing songs alone–and I wanted to throw myself into a different realm.”-Taylor Swift
After listening to Red end to end more than a couple times, it is easy to see that Taylor was trying to challenge herself and expand with this album. It’s interesting too, because it is very clear that since Speak Now, and especially since Fearless, she has grown up quite a bit. The fairytales are gone, and what we hear in her lyrics are snippets of real life (well, as real as a superstars life can be at this point), and things not going the way you planned, a sentiment anyone can relate to.
There is also a complexity to this album, and it is this complexity that I think moves it far beyond the bounds of Nashville. Taylor brings in pop, alternative and even rock elements and blends them with the country sound she debuted with six years ago. While I’m sure many country fans won’t be interested in this new sound, I genuinely enjoy it. Its fresh and its interesting, especially on tracks like “Starlight“, that even has a kind of epic electric guitar riff, and “Holy Ground” with its steady drumbeat and almost punkish edge to the vocals.
I’ll be honest though, my favorite tracks are the ones where the echoes of Taylor’s country background come through the strongest like “Everything Has Changed“, “Begin Again“, “Sad Beautiful Tragic“, “I Almost Do” and “Treacherous”. All in all, Red is made of a complicated combination of tracks, sounds, feelings, and lyrics. It is an organic and honest project, and one that I think Swift should be very proud of. No, it isn’t even a little bit traditional country, but if you listen, those country influences are still in there. And hey, if artists can’t grow and change through the years, what’s the purpose of creating new music?
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
Taylor Swift’s Red is available on iTunes NOW. Find the complete track listing below.
Red, Complete Track Listing.
1. State Of Grace
4. I Knew You Were Trouble
5. All Too Well
7. I Almost Do
8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
9. Stay Stay Stay
10. The Last Time
11. Holy Ground
12. Sad Beautiful Tragic
13. The Lucky One
14. Everything Has Changed (Duet with Ed Sheeran)
16. Begin Again