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ALBUM REVIEW: Taylor Swift, Red

TITLE: Red
ARTIST: Taylor Swift
LABEL: Big Machine Records
RELEASED: October 22nd 2012

Famed for opening her heart and pouring everything out in her songs, Taylor Swift is a girl who I’ve always respected. Although her voice resembles the kind of teeny Disney star I hate, Love Story and Teardrops On My Guitar are two of my favourite chill out tracks. I did um and ah about getting her new album Red but I was curious to listen to an entire record.

The 22-year-old Pennsylvanian singer/songwriter is no doubt a talent with a lot of appeal to women of all ages. With music that has a happy beat behind it and lyrics that real women can easily relate to, Taylor looks at heartbreaking situations in a high-spirited manner while maintaining honesty and authenticity.

Red’s lead single We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together has been a regular on radio stations everywhere. With so many elements of the grating High School Musical/Glee type sound, I did initially hate it. However, the immature sound and teenage feistiness is incredibly catchy. It’s the perfect track for young girls to be singing and promotes the idea that women should take a stand and not take any nonsense from fickle relationships.

Pop is obviously the dominant genre on the album but opening track State Of Grace has the kicking drum beat and soft rock guitar that give it an attitude like none of the other tracks. A catchy melody and cutesy vocal, which sings about a story of real love. It rolls effortlessly into the title track, which has a chorus packed full of universal feelings -“Losing him was blue like I’ve never known. Missing him was dark grey, all alone. Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you’ve never met. Loving him was red”. The inclusion of the colours really bring out the vibrancy within the catchy pop sound that hosts it. It’s a clever device that really works in terms of getting the message across. Treacherous and I Knew You Were Trouble are both about falling in love with the wrong people with the latter skirting the borders of dubstep. Together with the pure pop vocals, it’s fresh and innocent as well as edgy.

As well as love and heartbreak, Taylor is also big on writing songs on growing up. Her track Fifteen from her second album Fearless depicts her as a normal teenager experiencing love for the first time. Red’s equivalent comes in the form of one of my favourite tracks on the album, 22. Older, wiser and much more carefree, it’s about being single and loving it, which is an accurate description of how you come to realise that having a boyfriend isn’t the most important thing in the world. It’s girly, strong and flirty, which are all positive things that young listeners should be taking on board.

Fame is also visited on the album in the form of The Lucky One, which explores the downside to being known everywhere. Secrets are revealed and your life is fully exposed, while everyone else is trying to tell you how lucky you are. Perfect harmonic blends and simple rhythms make it all about lyrical content, as does Starlight which has a happy sunny manner and Holy Ground is another upbeat pop track with a rural American twang.

Taylor does heart-rending ballads like no other. All Too Well, I Almost Do, Sad Beautiful Tragic and Begin Again are the big resonating slow numbers and all have a melancholy tone and stories of lost loves. Becoming known for writing slow, floaty songs about broken relationships runs the risk of being labelled as a dramatic emo but Taylor’s innocence and sincerity give her songs originality. Hearing a young girl sing about what she’s been through leaves her wide open to criticism and ridicule but this pain comes from real life. Whether my opinion comes from being a woman myself or not, I totally get her and love that she uses music to express herself.

Besides, it’s not all doom and gloom. Stay Stay Stay is a cheerful simple track about when love does go right. It’s a pretty tune that serves as a welcome happy interlude. Sandwiched between The Last Time, which is a dark ballad with Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody and the defiant We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together, it’s a different vibe and therefore really stands out.

Speaking of collaborations, British superstar Ed Sheeran also makes an appearance on Red. Everything Has Changed is a pretty duet between the two young artists and their vocal blend in the chorus is spot on. A simple guitar accompanies them and it really sets the album off.

Red is a great album and Taylor is really coming into her own. She has long left behind the cutesy image and this is definitely an album by a woman in her twenties. It’s a definite must-listen if you’re interested in a more grown-up, edgy Taylor Swift.

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