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Taylor Swift - Fearless

Taylor Swift, Fearless

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

TAYLOR Swift is something of a sensation in the US, where she became the biggest selling American artist of 2008 at the age of just 19.

Rapidly building a following in the UK, the singer-songwriter now unveils her album, Fearless, which promises to be just as successful. It’s a confident, but oh-so American fusion of pop and country that relies heavily on heartbreak and teenage trials and tribulations for much of its inspiration.

It boasts the massive hits Love Story, Our Song, Teardrops On My Guitar and Should’ve Said No and is probably best appreciated by similarly aged girls who dig the “insightfulness” of Swift’s lyrics.

Musically, it’s good, with banjos, guitars and pianos all augmenting Swift’s undeniably powerful vocals. But while by no means as awful as it could have been for an artist who is often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Miley Cyrus and co, it’s only ever ordinary for this type of thing.

Songs have a tendency to harp on a bit… expressing mature sentiments about loss and love that defy Swift’s youthful years, while others seem written with placements in films and TV series in mind.

Album opener and title track opens on a note of optimism and is a picture-book soundtrack filler, fully of cheesy American coming-of-age/rites-of-passage moments, such as “and you know I want to ask you to dance right there, in the middle of the parking lot”. You can almost see the video playing out in your mind!

Fifteen, meanwhile, displays some useful guitar hooks, but is a slightly romantic view of freshman year… and the nerves that come with your first day.

Love Story is achingly, cheesily romantic, referencing Romeo during its “pretty” chorus, Hey Stephen a cute country-infused ditty about looks and feeling wanted, White Horse a manipulative slow-burner with more pretentious lyrics, and Breathe, a “mmm – mmm” laden duet with Colbie Caillat that reflects the end of a relationship. It could do without the “mmm – mmm”-ing, but it has its moments.

The album is actually better when indulging a free-spirited approach to the songwriting, keeping things upbeat and drawing on banjo, as with You Belong With Me and Tell Me Why. You can forgive it some of the more pretentious elements in its songwriting when you’re feet are tapping along, or your air-strumming that banjo… as opposed to reflecting on how naive the more sombre, piano-drenched and self-serious moments sound (step forward You’re Not Sorry).

The one thing that Fearless does do, however, is confirm that Taylor Swift is an artist that we’re sure to be hearing a lot more of in the future. She’s tailor-made to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Sheryl Crow and Shania Twain as she matures, given her country roots and easy pop appeal. Whether the songs will improve remains to be seen, but for now she’s listenable without being too objectionable.

Download picks: Love Story, You Belong With Me, Tell Me Why, Breathe

Track listing:

  1. Fearless
  2. Fifteen
  3. Love Story
  4. Hey Stephen
  5. White Horse
  6. You Belong With Me
  7. Breathe – Taylor Swift & Colbie Caillat
  8. Tell Me Why
  9. You’re Not Sorry
  10. The Way I Loved You
  11. Forever And Always
  12. The Best Day
  13. Change
  14. Our Song
  15. Teardrops On My Guitar
  16. Should’ve Said No