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Monday, October 22, 2012

Red - Taylor Swift's Forth Album

The most noteworthy aspect of Taylor Swift's engaging fourth studio album Red, out today, is not that she's ditched her country shadings in favor of pure danceable pop. Rather, it's that she continues to write ever-more convincingly -- and wittily and painfully -- about the messy emotions of a young twenty something nearing the end of her transition from girl to woman.

The diary-spilling, guess-my-exes'-names approach employed so successfully on 2010's Speak Now works even better in this more contemporary-sounding framework and likely will appeal to an even broader base.

Red's 16 tracks (which could easily have been edited to a dozen or so) were recorded with seven sets of producers in several locations, which keeps the sounds fresh and varied. But the standouts are the three glossy tracks from sessions in Stockholm, with Max Martin and Shellback at the helm: monster 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 and breezy 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 quite as flashy and employ acoustic instruments and/or orchestration, but which 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.''

Occasionally, she overreaches: Sad, Beautiful which is one of my top picks, Tragic tries for world-weary profundity but misses, and her whining about the price one pays for being an "it'' girl on The Lucky One simply rings false.

Duets with Ed Sheeran (Everything Has Changed) and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody (The Last Time) are innocuous and non-essential.

At this stage in her still-tender life, Swift does sass and naked honesty far better than melodrama, and that keeps us craving the next chapter.

Red, out now! Get it on iTunes and the nearest store around you!


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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
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