Album Name : Red

Artist : Taylor Swift

Label : Big Machine Records

Lyrics : Taylor Swift, Dan Wilson, Max Martin, Shellback, Liz Rose, Gary Lightbody, Jacknife Lee, Sheeran

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One of the reasons why I’ll always like Taylor Swift: she writes her own songs and she writes about what she knows. Since her self-titled debut, I’ve always been struck by how genuine and casually honest her songs are! I’ve always wondered about the boys mentioned in her songs- Cory and Steven and Drew- and the hooks to most of her songs are undeniably catchy.

In RED, the singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album released on October 22, 2012 through Big Machine Records, we are privy to, in Taylor’s words, “love that’s fast paced and out of control and mixes infatuation, jealousy, frustration, miscommunication, and all of those lovely emotions… In retrospect, it all looks red.”

While few songs felt too bland for my taste and failed to really scream RED, there were these other songs that were full of Taylor’s story-telling magic: capturing gentle beginnings, heartbreaking endings, young-ish exuberance, bad boy infatuations and the “end” of what seems like a crazy intense on-again off-again relationship (otherwise known as We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together).

The album, which spans over 65:11 minutes and consists of sixteen tracksis more pop rock than country pop, sometimes soaring to new heights, at other times wavering back to Taylor’s tried-and-tested formula (which is not a bad thing at all) while, at its worst, gets repetitive with respect to the tracks that blend in with the album, adding nothing to its overall impact.

Song Rating
State of Grace ★★★★☆
Red ★★★½☆
Treacherous ★★★★½
I Knew You Were Trouble ★★★½☆
All Too Well ★★★☆☆
22 ★★☆☆☆
I Almost Do ★★★½☆
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together ★★★★☆
Stay Stay Stay ★★☆☆☆
The Last Time (ft. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol) ★★★★☆
Holy Ground ★★★★☆
Sad Beautiful Tragic ★★☆☆☆
The Lucky One ★★★½☆
Everything Has Changed (ft. Ed Sheeran) ★★★½☆
Starlight ★★★☆☆
Begin Again ★★★☆☆

Album Analysis :
1.State of Grace

A great first track that takes love to the grandest of proportions. “This is the golden age of something good/And right and real”, Taylor sings and something about the lyrics took me back to the ballroom scene in the Love Story music video. The lyrics reinforce the belief that love goes on, and on. “I never saw you coming/And I’ll never be the same”. It’s terrific. It’s powerful. It makes an epic love story.

2.Red

This song explores the different shades of a relationship that has come a full circle. There’s longing, wistfulness, love and despair and it’s beautiful. The instrumentation is a perfect complement to the song and the breathy chorus captures your imagination.

3.Treacherous

With the strumming of the guitar in the background, Taylor sings of courting with danger as she falls for the bad boy. The lyrics possess an ethereal quality and the guitar strumming gets more intense as it builds up to the chorus.

4.I Knew You Were Trouble

Electro-country-pop at its best! It feels like a more overt Treacherous as both the songs are definitely about the same kind of relationship. While, of the two, I prefer Treacherous, I Knew Your Were Trouble is catchy and fun; Taylor’s voice trilling over the stomp-y beats.

5.All Too Well

An old scarf. Crumpled paper. The autumn leaves. This song is intricate, filled with memories that feel so personal… and probably are. Switching back to country influences, it’s a slow and wistful song that somehow didn’t quite feel like it belonged in this album… despite being the standard TS fare.

6.22

Ick. An over-the-top pop song, so unlike the introspective Fifteen of her sophomore album that says, “Everything will be all right/If we just keep dancing like we’re/22”. It’s such a slumber party song for adults… and while it’s certainly clever in its exuberance, the bright optimism was just a notch too much.

7.I Almost Do

A heart rendering and relatable song about holding back on an almost-relationship that failed the first time. It’s a subtly powerful song that I didn’t pay much attention to the first time but slowly grew on me.  “And I wish I could run to you/And I hope you know that everytime I don’t/I almost do/I almost do”.

8.We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

This is the first song from RED that I listened to and I couldn’t stop hitting Replay every five minutes. Co-written by Swift with Max Martin and Shellback, this song is as catchy as it gets with the energetic instrumentation interspersed with pulsating drum beats. It’s awesomely over-the-top and the music video (with the theater theme and animals partying it up) is so much fun! Tell me you don’t want to hang out with the cat man and the squirrel dude!

9.Stay Stay Stay

Stay Stay Stay feels like a filler song. The lyrics are repetitive and bland and the upbeat rhythm doesn’t add much to the song. It’s very flaky and forgettable.

10.The Last Time (ft. Gary Lightbody)

I LOVED this song by the third or fourth listen. The lyrics gain more depth with every listen and Taylor and Gary Lightbody sound great together.

11.Holy Ground

Holy Ground encompasses a perfect moment. It’s a very Taylor song. Love the beat and fleeting images of the New York minute that pop into your head while listening to it!

12.Sad Beautiful Tragic

This song kind of drags… Taylor sounds disconnected from this apparent “sad beautiful tragic” love affair which makes the song a dreary listen.

13.The Lucky One

Reminded me of Britney Spears’ song, Lucky, that I loved when I was thirteen. Taylor Swift paints a picture of a fading megastar; inspired by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. While it talks about the drawbacks of being famous… which I couldn’t really buy into… the idea of quietly disappearing off the map sounded kind of… nice.

14.Everything Has Changed (ft. Ed Sheeran)

This song is adorable! You meet someone, you’ve known him for barely five minutes and you’ve already engineered the perfect love story in your head. Sure, it’s all in your mind… but for those five minutes, it feels so real. I loved the premise of the song and the guitar strumming that accompanied it.

15.Starlight

A boppy and fun number that is not quite what Love Story or Mine was in her previous albums but is nevertheless magical and gets pretty addictive after a point.

16.Begin Again

Love goes on… and on. Contrary to State of Grace, which was a grand and epic love song that said the same thing, Begin Again explores the light at the end of a very dark and hollow tunnel. Burned out and devastated from a bad relationship, Swift feels hope return to her “on a Wednesday in a café”. It’s a sweet song and a great way to end the album!

Verdict : RED feels like Swift’s mini-journal with enough wide-eyed flightiness, genuineness and vivid rehashes to keep you listening! As an album, it definitely succeeds in fully drawing us into the spectrum of red. I loved the attention to detail and quirkiness in the lyrics and that as always, we probably knew who Swift was referring to in most of her songs… Sure, it’s not a perfect album but consists of some songs that are truly remarkable and sure to stick with you till the end!

Album ★★★★★★★☆☆☆