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Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ is golden

Carrie Turek | Monday, October 29, 2012

 

I’ve heard it blasting through dorm rooms, talked about between classmates and hummed by those walking behind Reckers. It’s been discussed and glorified in Facebook posts and “22” has been playing in the advertisements for the upcoming Country Music Association Awards. I could only be talking about one thing – Taylor Swift’s “Red” album. Released Oct. 22, Taylor Swift’s “Red” still controls the No. 1 spot on iTunes’ top album downloads and the deluxe edition was sold out on Target.com as of Oct. 28. It seems Swift’s fourth studio album “Red” could more aptly be titled “Golden.”

As someone who became hooked on Swift’s relatable lyrics and down-to-earth country style as a young eighth-grader, and who has absorbed the tunes and lyrics of both “Fearless” and “Speak Now,” I was more than enthusiastic to see what Swift’s fourth album would bring. Though the subjects of her music have morphed from the abstract “Cory” and “Drew” into more well-known interests over the years and through the albums, Swift’s musical talent and poignant lyrics have remained the same. “Red” is marked by the same versatility and fluidity that has made Swift’s previous albums and songs such a success in transcending the boundaries between the country and pop genres. 

Swift’s album runs the gamut of emotions, cycling through the colors and feelings she references in the title track “Red.” As the liner notes suggest, Swift shares with her listeners the feelings she has recently experienced and grown to understand in her relationships. Though all of Swift’s albums focus on relationships and life experiences, this album feels notably more mature. In addition to the obvious nod to growing up in “22,” Swift’s duets with Ed Sheeran (in “Everything Has Changed”) and Gary Lightbody (in “The Last Time”) reflect her strength as a versatile vocalist. “The Last Time” showcases Swift’s great ability to balance her style and strength with another singer especially well.

“Red” feels simultaneously fresh and familiar. Swift comprises “Red” of songs that sound classically “Taylor Swift” with others that exhibit a new type of maturity. Songs like “Red” and “Stay, Stay, Stay” feel familiar – full of those spot-on, “I know that feeling” lyrics and a bit of a country feel. They call to mind Swift favorites like “Love Story” and “Our Song.” At the same time, these new songs and those like “Knew You Were Trouble” and “Starlight” share a new type of enthusiasm and energy -one that could definitely be colored red. 

Tracks like “Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” certainly have a radio-ready quality, as they unquestionably get stuck in your head, but they are by no means boring or run-of-the-mill. Each of these two tracks perfectly represents Swift’s ability to appeal to a wide range of listeners without ever feeling stale. The catchy repetition characteristic of “Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” is echoed in “Girl at Home,” a track worth the listen and one that showcases the flexibility and range of Swift’s voice. 

Looking at the “bluer” tracks on the album like “Sad, Tragic, Beautiful,” “The Moment I Knew” and “I Almost Do,” Swift’s strength at transferring deep emotions into song comes through. “The Moment I Knew” (from the deluxe album) is a deep, poignant track that reflects Swift’s country roots and has a ballad-like quality similar to that of “Last Kiss” and “Dear John” from Swift’s “Speak Now” album. Like many of Swift’s sadder tracks, “I Almost Do” has an unavoidable draw. Just as Swift’s earlier albums draw listeners in with her honest and real lyrics, “I Almost Do” has a simple and personal quality that captures listeners. 

Other songs reflect more ambiguous feelings about life and love, expressing twin feelings of risk and excitement (“Treacherous”), and disillusionment with fame (“The Lucky One”). 

Taylor Swift’s “Red,” like all of her previous albums, only gets better with time, as listeners discover new tracks and learn more of her lyrics by heart. Most of Swift’s charm comes from the honesty and feeling that she instills in her tracks, and her fourth album certainly possesses these qualities. I’m sure we will be hearing more and more humming and singing along to this album in the near future.

The deluxe album, which includes six bonus tracks (three studio tracks and three remixes) is available at Target and is certainly worth the buy.

Contact Carrie Turek at cturek@nd.edu

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more! Great article Carolyn! Thanks for your wonderful insight.