Taylor Swift - Red (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
TAYLOR Swift arguably comes of age with her new album Red, which does actually mark a progression of sorts and delivers a few decent moments that come close to explaining why she’s currently one of the most successful singers on the planet right now.
After writing her last album (Speak Now) entirely by herself, she has collaborated with several artists, producers, and songwriters that she has always wanted to work with and the results occasionally mark a move away from the trademark country-pop sound that shot her to prominence.
The Last Time, her collaboration with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, is a good for instance. A power ballad, it begins as sombre as any of Snow Patrol’s big anthems thanks to a brooding piano arrangement and the decision to allow Lightbody’s vocals to take the lead. You could be forgiven for thinking Snow Patrol had actually hijacked the album until Swift contributes her vocals and stamps a little of her identity over it. As a whole, though, the track works well and could well broaden Swift’s appeal still further.
Likewise, her collaboration with Ed Sheeran on Everything Has Changed offers a good duet. Admittedly, it’s the type of meaningful strummed ballad that Swift can deliver in her sleep but it does work well on the combination of boy-girl vocals and the crowd-pleasing melodic structure.
That’s not to say that she only breaks from formula for the duets (as there are only two). Rather, there are other moments that please too.
I Knew You Were Trouble starts out as a breezy pop song with slick acoustic licks and a flirty sense of impending danger. But once the chorus lands it also incorporates some darker electronic touches that kind of makes you take notice. It’s good too.
She also does the whole breeze country-pop thing really well. 22 is impossibly catchy, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together likewise (despite some dodgy speak-singing) with its sunshine harmonies (indeed, has a break-up track ever sounded so upbeat?), and Stay Stay Stay with its sweet mandolin licks and toe-tapping beats.
Even the more brooding likes of Sad Beautiful Tragic or the generic The Lucky One (which sums up what generally to expect from Swift to a tee) strike a chord in some way and emerge as decent tracks.
You can almost forgive the album its tamer moments (I Almost Do, Holy Ground, etc) as, put together, this is arguably Swift’s best and most universally appealing album to date.
Download picks: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Stay Stay Stay, 22, The Last Time, Everything Has Changed, I Knew You Were Trouble