There are going to be hundreds of reviews of this album out there (and yes, I'm old, I still call them albums) and I know I'm not in Taylor's main demographic audience. First off, I'm a guy. Second off I'm 42 years old and normally listen to things like Irish punk, The Beatles, Springsteen or some hard core country like Chris Knight. I love big band music whether it's Frank Sinatra or Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. With all of that said, I adore Taylor and this new album "Red."
Taylor's songwriting is still in fine form here. The thing that always amazes me about her writing is that she's able to tell stories in her songs, she keeps it simple and more often than not finds one heck of a hook in the chorus. There is passion, there's energy and there is joy. Sure, there are so sad songs, but it seems to my that Taylor takes so much joy in making music that it's hard as a listener not to get caught up in that with her.
After listening to the 16 tracks and the 6 bonus tracks available on some packages I have to say that Taylor's bonus tracks alone are better than what most artists are putting out as albums these days. The "demo" recordings of "Treacherous," "Red" and "State of Grace" are excellent and polished works that are just a bit more stripped down than the versions that appear on the album. It's not really fair to call them demos, as when I hear that word I'm expecting below-par sound and performance. I think it's the mark of a good song if it can be done solo-acoustic (or at least very stripped down) and these three songs certainly hold up well.
For me the whole album is very solid, there are no songs on this disc that I'd skip when listening to it. There is a nice mix of slower ballads and hard hitting rock numbers. Make no mistake about it, Taylor Swift is a rock and roll star. She's setting the bar for what pop music is and doing a fine job of it. It's funny, while listening to "Red" and the big anthmatic numbers I couldn't help but think this is the modern day version of Phil Spector's wall of sound. Sure, there are a lot of synthesizers here, but Taylor has an uncanny ability to create a big sound that just envelops you, especially if you like to play your music as loud as I do.
I think it's the fact that Taylor is such a good songwriter and maybe more importantly storyteller that makes her so accessible across so many different lines. It doesn't matter how old you are or what gender you are, Taylor's songs resonate. Even a song like "22" which is an anthem for the young "let's go out and party" crowd it still hits home with me at 42, because believe it or not kids I was 22 at one point. And, I'm guessing the 10 year olds that hear the song will relate to it because they know it's exactly what they're going to want to do when they're 22.
Red is a little bit country, a lot of pop and a heavy dose of rock and roll. Like some big artists before her, Taylor Swift is not a follower, but instead she is creating the standard for what is popular music. And maybe this is the old man in me coming out, but where most of popular music is fairly brainless and devoid of substance that's the opposite of what Taylor Swift brings to the table. She brings some great story songs, most of which (if not all) I'm pretty sure are very auto-biographical. Taylor is simply telling us her story, she's just making it rhyme and adding some killer hooks and melodies for good measure.
on October 29, 2012
Being 35, I feel that I am a little out of the demographic age range for Taylor's "expected" audience. I feel that her songwriting allows women of different age brackets to relate to her experiences; it is surprisingly comforting to know that someone else has had the same things happen while in romantic relationships.
My favorite album prior to this one was "Fearless." It was a mix of happy-go-lucky to mysterious, to sad tunes and I feel that "Red" mimics that tone, but with an angry twist! Her passion is evident and I greatly admire how she wears her heart on her sleeve with no apparent hesitation.
Although some of the high notes are a little sharp, her songwriting is what brings me back to her albums time and time again. Over the years, I have listened to many artists and tracks but I find that hers are the only ones that I can listen to, over and over again.
Definitely recommended, no matter what age you are! :)
on October 22, 2012
Well...she had done it again. I love Taylor Swift. Theres just something about her voice that makes my day a little better. Her songs grow on me. Every album just kind of grows on you until you find that you know every lyric of every song. After first listen I was like..."Huh?" And then another listen. And another. And now I'm thinking out loud "YES!". She does take some leaps on this album. Experimenting with different beats, different instruments, and pushes super close to bubblegum pop, maybe even too far for some fans. But, this is Taylor Swift after all and Swifties will love her efforts and style. Some songs stand tall and others fall short. Among the best are Begin Again, I Almost Do, All Too Well, Treacherous, and Everything has Changed. Among the different are Red, I Knew You Were Trouble, 22 and State of Grace. This IS a different album. Some songs don't feel polished and this is completely different than previous albums. Some songs aren't lyrically 'heavy' like I Knew You Were Trouble, State of Grace, and We Are Never.... Is that a bad thing? No. Its just different. Every album gives us a new take on where she is musically and lyrically. Bottom line. Go get the album. You know you want to!
on October 28, 2012
"Red" by Taylor Swift continues Taylor Swift's musical journey of love and life. "We Are Never Getting Back Together" was an ok song, but I fortunately heard other tunes on this cd that I like more. The following are some of the other strong songs on her cd: "Sad Beautiful Tragic", "Red", "I Knew You Were Trouble", "The Last Time", "Everything Has Changed", "The Lucky One" and "Starlight". This cd is best for those who have liked either "Love Story" or "You Belong With Me" (due to the songs being in a similar musical vein).
on October 23, 2012
I'll start by saying that I'm a Taylor fan, so I may not exactly be impartial. Also, this album is definitely light on the "country" side of country-pop. Her lyrics are still beautifully descriptive, in the vein of Speak Now. Yes, the album is about love and boys and breakups, which a lot of people seem to complain about, but it doesn't actually bother me. With that in mind, here is a review of the tracks:
State of Grace: (8.5/10) I didn't actually like this song much at first, but it has definitely grown on me. It is a very strong hook for the album, with a much a different feel than Taylor's usual. Out of all of the new sounds she experimented with on "Red", this is by far the most intriguing to me. It has, dare I say it, alt-rock roots, which is not anything I would expect from her.
Red: (9/10) I have to say that I love, love, love the lyrics to this song. The verses are so vivid that her emotion is tangible. However, the auto tuned part of the chorus was a semi-deal breaker--otherwise, it would have been a perfect ten.
Treacherous: (10/10) Gahhh I love this song so much. I've had it on repeat. Once again, Taylor is at her songwriting best, and this song has a Speak Now-ish feel--but with more maturity. She isn't a teenager anymore, and out of every song on this album, I think this one exhibits that fact the most. "I can't decide if it's a choice/getting swept away"
I Knew You Were Trouble: (6/10) There's no denying that this song is catchy, and it will probably be a big hit. That being said, the chords and vocals are not at their strongest. I don't hate the lite dub step as much as I thought I would, but I don't necessarily want to hear much more of this sound for Taylor.
All Too Well: (9/10) Every time I listen to this song, I like it a little bit more. It is something of a throwback to her earlier stuff--it seems like a more polished Fearless. But that's precisely what makes this song more effective--it is another one that shows that she has, in fact, grown up a bit since then.
22: (2/10) I really, really don't like this song. Her vocals are at a clear low for the album, and the lyrics/message are equally substandard. I blame Max Martin, and pray that he has nothing to do with the next album.
I Almost Do: (6/10) This one is somewhat forgettable to me, and more of the same, but still good.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: (7/10) I like this song much more than I have any right to. Another Max Martin, I highly doubt that it will go down as one of her best songs. But it sure as hell is fun, and the humorous lyrics and talking bits make it an interesting fist-pumping pop anthem.
Stay Stay Stay: (5/10) This song isn't particularly anything; it isn't good, it isn't bad. Neither the lyrics nor the chords are terribly complex, but is another catchy dance song. I feel like it would have fit in perfect on one of her earlier albums, like Fearless, when she still had the excuse of teendom for the cutesy feel.
The Last Time: (10/10) When I first heard this song, I just loved it. Her vocals are reminiscent of Safe and Sound, and I love Gary Lightbody as well. The strings make it so atmospheric. Musically, this is the most intricate song on the album.
Holy Ground: (8/10) I thought this would be a slow, sad song by the name, but it is quite the opposite. It has a get-up-and-dance feel, highlighting the fun flirtiness of a failed relationship.
Sad, Beautiful Tragic: (4/10) Well, I knew there would be a token depressing ballad, and this would definitely be it. She sounds good, don't get me wrong, but honestly, this song just bores me.
The Lucky One: (10/10) This song fascinates me. It tells the story of Hollywood dreams and stars, from the point of view of somebody who knows the game well. It is arguably the only song on the album that doesn't focus on a relationship. The lyrics also have something of a weathered strength, contributing to the overall maturity of this album.
Everything Has Changed: (9/10) As soon as I heard that Ed Sheeran was co-writing a song for "Red", I legitimately freaked. He is one of my favorite artists at the moment. This song doesn't disappoint. I read somewhere that they wrote this on a trampoline with a guitar, and I can easily picture that. It tells the story of a sweet flirtationship in an earthy, carefree way.
Starlight: (6/10) This is another "meh" song for me. It is wholly unremarkable and echoes many of Taylor's previous songs.
Begin Again: (10/10) Perfectly ends the album with a hopeful note-- both thematically and musically.
The Moment I Knew (6/10) Typically, familiarly Taylor, this song sounds like it maybe missed the cut for a previous album.
Come Back...Be Here: (7/10) Ultimately forgettable, but it's sweet and the emotional desperation translates across to us. I also quite like the last chorus with the hand-clapping instrumentation.
Girl At Home: (8/10) This one is super catchy, with a positive no-cheating message for girls. It details Taylor's frustration with a somewhat slimy guy who is hitting on her, despite his "girl at home".
Treacherous Demo Version: Not sure how to rate this one, because it sounds virtually the same as the album version. It does have slightly different instrumentation, which I do like a bit.
Red Demo Version: Besides a slightly longer introduction and a different drum rhythm, this also sounds basically the same. I prefer the album version.
State of Grace Acoustic: (9/10) LOVE this version. It works perfectly as an accompaniment piece to the original, and the quiet, simple chords showcase Taylor's voice.
Overall, I will say that this album is pretty much great, but there are some notable detriments. It is one part more of the same, and one part something completely new. Some of her risks pay off, but some do not at all. I have a feeling that some critics will say that this album is all over the place, which it is at points. I feel like in order to get that perfect five star review (from me at least), Taylor is going to have to figure out what, exactly, she wants to be, and commit to it. Her maturity exudes from certain tracks, but there are a few that are annoyingly teen-ish.
But don't get me wrong--I know, without a doubt, that I will have this album on repeat for quite some time.
on January 31, 2013
I bought this for my wife for Christmas and found myself listening to it as well. I was never anti-Taylor, but thought she was maybe a bit too girly for my taste. I was wrong. She is a great songwriter with great vocals. There's some really nice mature material on here, along with the pop candy. She deserves the accolades.
on November 15, 2012
Taylor Swift has become the #1 name in pop music, having the catchy first single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and having her new album (this one) go Platinum in five days. This album is definitely up to all the hype and sales, and Taylor Swift truly deserves all the attention she is getting - even if she doesn't want all of it, given the necessary poke at the paparazzi she gives in "The Lucky One."
Highlights of the album include:
-The arena-rock opener "State of Grace" when Taylor explores a sudden relationship
-The title track "Red" about the colorful lust of a past relationship
-"22" about the joys of being that age
-The true-to-form "I Almost Do" where Taylor wonders about the yearning of her ex
-The cute ballad "Stay Stay Stay"
-"The Last Time," a strong and harmonious duet with Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody, about both sides of an on-and-off relationship gone sour
-The disco rock "Starlight" which shows an exploration of new genres that go beyond strumming a guitar
-The closer "Begin Again" and Taylor's heart pumping red again
Other songs such as the Dan Wilson-produced "Treacherous," the Max Martin collaboration and mega-hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," the aforementioned "The Lucky One," the reflectional "All Too Well," and the eerie "Sad Beautiful Tragic" that's everything "Last Kiss" from Speak Now should have been all live up to expectations as well. "I Knew You Were Trouble," an over-produced rant of self-blame and misfortune, and although it is written as typical Taylor Swift fare, it becomes annoying.
Although the album has some disappointments, like the forgettable "Holy Ground" and the waste of a duet with Ed Sheeran ("Everything Has Changed," a random, unfocused mess), it is overall a very strong effort that lives up to the A+ work of "Speak Now" two years ago. Even if it is long and has a few duds, it's still well worth a purchase given that over half of the songs are worth listening to. Keep in mind: This is a pop record, even with its few country moments on "Treacherous" and "I Almost Do," and if you're looking for more Fearless-era Taylor Swift, this isn't it. She's growing as an artist in her own direction and trying to discover what her true calling is. Although there are songs that seem to be from different albums here, this sixteen-track set is exploring the variety and evolution of Taylor Swift's songwriting, and the music reflects it.
Taylor Swift returns after a two-year hiatus with 2012's Red, arguably the year's biggest album, seeking to extend upon her previous successes (2008's Fearless and 2010's Speak Now). Red serves as more of a departure for Swift, delivering more pop sensibilities than previous efforts have exhibited. This pop nature has been evidenced in full fruition via singles "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble," both produced by one of pop's `it' teams in Max Martin and Shellback. Country may be ever so disappointed by Swift's pop stylings, though should appreciate the fact she balances enough singer-songwriter cuts. Overall, Red is another intriguing release by the 22-year old star.
"State of Grace" opens possessing a sound pop/rock blend with country elements more understated and minimal here. Written by Swift, she and Nathan Chapman produce the cut, characterized by pummeling drums and electric guitar. Swift's songwriting remains sharp, most notably on the succinct, though emotive chorus: "And I never saw you coming, and I'll never be the same..." Ultimately, Swift `pitches' well here, with the only quibble being it's five minute length.
"Red," also penned by Swift, loses no momentum and successfully contrasts "State of Grace" by trending more country/pop than the opener. Lyrically, Swift continues to allure, promoting cutting edge lines like "Losing him was blue like I'd never known/missing him was dark grey all alone/forgetting him was like trying to show somebody you've never met/but loving him was red..." Ultimately, "Red" keeps the momentum afloat.
"Treacherous" loses a bit of the luster of "State of Grace" and "Red," but ultimately remains consistent. Swift chooses a more restrained approach throughout, which is a pro. She does covered ever so slightly on the bridge, which features more production and intensity than the majority of the song. Pop cut "I Knew You Were Trouble." is stronger, contrasting the restraint of it predecessor in favor of the pop gimmickry of producers Max Martin and Shellback. Most shocking is on the incredible hook when Martin and Shellback throw in a dubstep bass line and whacky electro-influenced synths. It shouldn't work, but Swift actually delivers more vocal edge and personality than we've experienced previously. The songwriting suffers none: "Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in/so shame on me now, flew me to places I'd never been/'til you put me down/oh I knew you were trouble when you walked in/so shame on me now, flew me to places I'd never been/nowI'm lying on the cold hard ground." Verdict? A+.
"All Too Well" atones for Swift's more country-leaning fans, opting for a more conservative direction and slowing down the tempo after the ferociousness of "I Knew You Were Trouble." The cut possesses a sound rhythmic flow and the chorus is not concrete, but possesses lyrical variations given each iteration. The main quibble is length, which clocks in at 5 ½ minutes
"22" contrasts country, swapping for care-free pop: "Uh oh, I don't know about you but I'm feeling 22/everything will be alright if you keep me next to you/you don't know about me but I bet you want to/everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we're 22, 22..." As always, Max Martin and Shellback provide Swift with an excellent backdrop. There is little to quibble about here, but perhaps Swift does overreach vocally as she tries to soar. Overall though, "22" is sassily excellent.
"I Almost Do" lacks the hit potential of the pop cuts, but maintains a sense of consistency. Never fear as the feisty lead single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" proceeds, maintaining high energy. One feels that Swift really `lets go of her cool' and is reveling in her youth. The message may be stemmed out of a breakup/heartbreak, but Swift spins it as one of 2012's most fun and memorable songs: "We are never ever ever ever getting back together...you go talk to you friends talk/to my friends talk to me/but we are never ever ever getting back together..."
"Stay, Stay, Stay" shifts gears incorporating ukelele, which gives the cut a folk-pop/tropical sound (think Colbie Caillat). Swift is joined by Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol) on the piano-driven "The Last Time," which is slower in tempo, but yields some sound vocal chemistry between the two. "The Last Time" works, but is a bit `sleepy.' "Holy Ground" proceeds, produced by Jeff Bhasker. Quicker possessing a country-rock sensibility, "Holy Ground" lacks the spark of the best, but remains enjoyable and consistent.
"Sad Beautiful Tragic" features nice lower register vocals by Swift. The balance between country and singer-songwriter idioms is well executed. Bhasker produces once more on "The Lucky One," which features more memorable lyrics from Swift. Both cuts are solid, but pale in comparison to "State of Grace," "I Knew You Were Trouble," "22," or "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."
"Everything Has Changed," featuring Ed Sheeran, produces a cut that competes with the very best of Red. Produced by Butch Walker and co-written by Swift and Sheeran, "Everything Has Changed" showcases superb vocal chemistry between the two. The chorus works spectacularly: "Cause all I know is we said hello/and your eyes look like coming home/all I know is a simple name, everything has changed/all I know is you held the door/you'll be mine and I'll be yours/all I know since yesterday is everything has changed..."
"Starlight" bridges country and pop quite effectively, though stands out less than "Everything Has Changed." "Begin Again," a preliminary single, closes the effort solidly, though doesn't eclipse better singles.
Red isn't necessarily Taylor Swift`s best album compared to the quality of the work she's released, but shows Swift able and willing to stretch her wings. The crossover appeal possibilities have already shown themselves and are evidence of why Red will sell one million-plus its first week. Highly recommended.
on February 27, 2013
This record is definitely Taylor Swift's pop crossover platform, which is why I am confused that it is still categorized as Country... Anyways, a lot of these songs are really catchy, and I really like her duets here. It's a different sound, definitely more Pop, but still a nice album for her fans.
For non-Taylor fans, I still think "The Last Time" is a great song. She sings it with the lead singer of Snow Patrol and it's something that I feel appeals to more people than her tween crowd.
on October 22, 2012
Let me start by giving a little bit of background--I'm a huge fan of Taylor's, but I'm also not afraid to give my true perception of something if it's not perfect. Just so you know what I was thinking when I wrote this, my favorite kind of songs are usually slower ballads with deep lyrics. I'm not too picky about genre.
Now I'm going to give a brief description of the songs (as I perceive them) and then a couple thoughts. I'll rate each song out of 10, and the ratings are relative to other songs on the album. And I'm reviewing the deluxe edition, so there's six more songs.
1. State of Grace: Epic album opener. Rock-oriented. Reminds me of OneRepublic. Lyrics quite strong. 8/10
2. Red: Mix of country-rock and pop-rock. Banjos feature, but so does auto-tune. Lyrics strong, but slightly awkward. 6/10
3. Treacherous: Not really sure of the genre, but it's a superb track. Possibly country-folk-pop. Very strong lyrics. Best melody: "Two headlights shine..." 9/10
4. I Knew You Were Trouble.: Pop/dubstep. Fantastically catchy chorus. Vocals slightly strained on verses. Pretty strong lyrics, certainly best of Max Martin collabs. 6/10
5. All Too Well: A strong country-folk ballad. A lyrical masterpiece. Quite possibly the lyrical highlight of her career so far. Certainly one of the strongest songs on the album, both melodically and lyrically. 10/10
6. 22: Avril Levigne meets Kesha meets... Taylor? It's fun and catchy but her voice sounds awful and it just doesn't fit well. Honestly I would rather have seen Girl At Home take its place. 3/10
7. I Almost Do: Definitely a throwback to her first album. It has a very country feel, but for some reason it just doesn't stand out. It's not bad though. 6/10
8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: Terrible. Sorry. Pop crap. This song could've been replaced a thousand times over with The Moment I Knew. 2/10
9. Stay Stay Stay: It's cheesy and silly, but there's a joy in Taylor's voice that's just infectious. Ukulele is the main instrument. Reminds me of Ours, but slightly less lyrically prolific. It makes for a mood lifter in an album of quite depressing songs. 6/10
10. The Last Time: Piano and strings are the main instruments. Gary Lightbody's voice and Taylor's blend beautifully in this sweeping ballad. 9/10
11. Holy Ground: I really hoped this song would be Irish-influenced. Instead it's an upbeat, dance-y drum driven pop track. I neither like nor dislike it. 5/10
12. Sad Beautiful Tragic: This song rips out your heart, leaves it bleeding, tries to sow it back together and then repeats the entire process. Her vocals are certainly the best they have ever been. Lyrics are heart wrenching. My favorite song. Kind of Last Kiss + Safe & Sound. 10/10
13. The Lucky One: Absolutely fascinating subject. I heard someone describe the genre as alternative folk, and I think that works. It has a very minor tone. Some of her most introspective lyrics ever. Parts of it remind me of Untouchable, and "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 (just the feel). 10/10
14. Everything Has Changed: Very, very organic folksy feel. The production is sparse and it almost sounds like a live recording. I think it gets better as it progresses. While Ed and Taylor's voices don't quite blend as well as Gary and Taylor's, it's still quite nice. 7/10
15. Starlight: This is definitely a magical song. The tinkling piano feels like sprinkled fairy dust. The chorus melody reminds me too much of "Don't Trust Me" by 3OH3! 6/10
16. Begin Again: Fantastic melody, lyrics, production. Very vulnerable and emotional vocal performance. 9/10
17. The Moment I Knew: Depressing. Feels country but strong poppy drums. Very relatable, nice imagery. 8/10
18. Come Back...Be Here: Feels country pop. Could probably easily be a Speak Now track. Nothing particularly unique or standout here, I get why it's bonus. 5/10
19. Girl At Home: Quite pop. Interesting subject... it's funny, because she's doing exactly what she told the guy in Should've Said No to do... not cheat under pressure! 7/10
20. Treacherous (demo): I don't understand, it sounds exactly the same to me... maybe just slightly less production on vocals? Like that softening effect in my favorite part. But... just why? 7/10
21. Red (demo): Once again... not sure what's that difference. Slightly different production, but really... there's still the RE-EH-EH-EDs I hate so much. 5/10
22. State of Grace (acoustic): Oh. My. God. As much as I love the original, this is what an acoustic song should sound like. Perfection. Vocals, atmosphere = oooh. 9/10