“Red” keeps the Taylor Swift hit-making machine on track
Everyone who doesn't live under a rock has heard the name Taylor Swift and has attached either positive or negative connotations to it. Some of those who hold the latter opinion either didn't like her from the beginning or gave up on her after her “Fearless” album didn't step far enough out of her country roots or teenage crush stage. These people missed out on “Speak Now,” when Swift broke into a variety of new styles and subjects. And among those of us who have loved her since “Teardrops on My Guitar” and remained dedicated, her newest album “Red” has been highly anticipated.
Experimenting with new sounds
We all got a taste of her new sound with the release of her first single from the album, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which caught the attention of some non-fans as catchy and different from her past hits. The song's lovable quirkiness is enhanced by its music video, which was shot in one take and features her band members dancing around in animal costumes. It's one of those songs that people are unsure of at first, but it definitely grows on you.
In the few weeks leading up to the release of “Red,” Swift appeared on Good Morning America each Monday to reveal another new single available for purchase on iTunes. The ones she chose — “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Begin Again,” “Red” and “State of Grace” — really helped to evoke interest and show the different sounds people can expect to hear. But, as with most records, I wouldn't say they're all the best songs; I like to believe artists keep those out of the spotlight for the fans dedicated enough to search them out and buy them.
For the most part, the first half of the album is scattered with tracks sporting Swift's new and much-talked-about pop sound and a recurring theme of dangerous or broken love. One example is “22,” a clean Ke$ha-esque song you want to get up and dance and sing along to. The exception is “All Too Well”; it's much more reminiscent of what one might expect from Taylor Swift in regards to the more mature sound she grew into with “Speak Now.”
Individual tracks as diverse as country to indie rock
As you get into the record the songs display more variety, ranging from subtle country influences to an indie-rock vibe, comparable in some cases to Iron & Wine or Coldplay. This different sound can be accredited in part to some of Swift's co-writers and performers such as Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and English singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. I really like it, but it definitely wasn't expected. As much as it excites me that she is broadening her horizons, I'm always going to love those Taylor Swift staples. I think probably the closest thing to a cliché Taylor Swift song on the album would be “Stay Stay Stay.” It tells a story, it involves a healthy relationship and it's overall cutesy and makes you feel good – which is one big aspect of her musical aim.
Despite all of the new genre influences, the lyrics still resemble her earlier writing and bring up the same themes as in the past. Swift continues to portray her fascination with love, as well as show her more literary side with clever and intelligent metaphors, similes and Facebook status-worthy one-liners full of truth and morality. The last track on the album is appropriately titled “Begin Again,” and is the epitome of Swift's view of love. Many people give her the negative stereotype of going through one relationship after another and speculate that maybe she's the problem. But she has a fearless hope in love that has resulted in an immensely successful career and some great music – “Red” is no exception.