It's finally here! Taylor Swift's fourth album hit stores Monday morning. There is going to be a lot of talk about how she's "left country" and "crossed into pop," and yes, other than a mandolin or two the album is more hot dance beats than banjo strumming.
That said, the main story here is the actual lyrics and content of her album. Swift is known for writing very personal songs about the men who have broken her heart. It's a fun game trying to match songs to her current love life: Forever & Always = Joe Jonas, Back to September = Taylor Lautner, Dear John = John Mayer?, Red = ... John Mayer? She has an interesting track record of former lovers or in her words "characters." You usually know what you're going to get with Swift, personal accounts of her life. But, this is album is freeer.
Swift might not be fully shedding her country roots but she is expanding more fully into a world of pop. Her words and lyrics are a little less guarded and more raw. She's growing up, she is having more "real" world experiences.
Red's 16 tracks (which has some tracks that could've been cut ... ) were recorded with seven sets of producers in several locations, which creates fresh and varied tracks. But the standouts are the three tight tracks from sessions in Stockholm, with Max Martin and Shellback in the booth: stud single We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together; I Knew You Were Trouble, accented with vocal stutters and propulsive programmed keyboards and guitars; and the crisp 22, in which she sums up her zeitgeist with "Everything will be all right if we just keep dancing like we're 22.''
Swift's Nashville sessions with longtime producer Nathan Chapman resulted in songs that are not as flashy and employ acoustic instruments, but have more lyrical depth. Breathy ballad All Too Well, written with Liz Rose, bitterly describes a guy who was "casually cruel in the name of being honest,'' while the sprightly and sweetly silly Stay Stay Stay pokes fun at her own brattish behavior: "I'm pretty sure we almost broke up last night. I threw my phone across the room at you ... but you stayed."
In addition to the forementioned songs also download State of Grace, Begin Again, and Treacherous. I am not willing to say that this album is her best yet, or that you should go out and buy it ASAP. But she has some great songs to dance to, get over guys to.