Today we have the next release from Taylor Swift, with her album “Red”. Apparently, some people referred to this record as her crossover album from country to pop music, but I certainly don’t hear anything that sounds much like country music on this record, even by today’s watered-down country-pop standards. That being said, as she made the move to pop music, she certainly did it extremely well. This record has 16 songs in total, so there is no shortage in content, and while 7 of the tracks were released as singles, by my count, any one of these 16 songs probably could have been pushed by the label as a releasable single. Taylor won’t go down as the most vocally amazing performer of her generation, but she and her team around her were remarkably capable of writing and performing infectious pop tunes. Critically, I believe respect has grown with time for Taylor and her music, and this album is rated #99 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Most of these songs centered around the challenges of ending relationships, which fair or not, was associated with Swift for several of her younger years in the business. Even at this time, I was still only distantly connected to the world of pop music, and I only recognized the two biggest hits from this album, “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.
Like I said, all of these songs are quite easy to digest, and if I had to pick two other songs I liked best, I would go with the album opener “State of Grace”, which was not released as a single, and “22”, which was released as the 4th single from the record.
Not surprising, there are two collaborations on this record. One of the pairings was inevitable as Ed Sheeran joined her on “Everything Has Changed”, while the other featured Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. I love how they actually referred to him on the album as “Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol”, which is probably helpful. Did you know the name of the singer for Snow Patrol? Yeah… me neither. Both of these duets are on the slow and melancholy side, but they do provide nice contrast to the consistent energy and presence of Swift.
Like the last Swift album we discussed, Taylor has recently recorded a new version of the entire album (subtitled “Taylor’s Version”), and I have to give her credit again, she and her production team did a great job of reproducing these songs ten years after the fact. For the future, I will respect her wishes and listen to that version if/when I add a song or two from this record to my playlist. Maybe it is a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I’m enjoying the expanded view of her catalog during this journey and I know there is plenty more to come.