Sunday, November 07, 2010

TAYLOR SPEAKS OUT

It is not often that I give an album a 5 star rating, but Taylor Swift's SPEAK NOW (2010, Big Machine Records) merits this honour.  The album clocks in at 67 minutes and 27 seconds and features fourteen tracks penned by Swift, and co-produced with Nathan Chapman.  The following is my song by song breakdown:

1. Mine-This radio single speaks of a playful innocence: "Do you remember we were sitting there by the water?/You put your arm around me for the first time/You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter/You are the best thing that's ever been mine."  The words flow freely off of Swift's tongue.
2. Sparks Fly-This song is joyful and about falling helplessly in love: "The way you move is like a full-on rainstorm/And I'm a house of cards/You're the kind of reckless that should/Send me running but/I kinda know that I won't get far."
3. Back to December-This is a ballad about regret: "So this is me swallowing my pride/Standing in front of you saying I'm sorry for that night." A good vocal.

4. Speak Now-This song takes place in a dream, and is similar in theme to 'You Belong with me' from her last album.  Vocally, Swift sounds like Leigh Nash on this one: "I lose myself in a daydream where I stand and say/Don't say yes, run away now/I'll meet you when you're out of the church at the back door." A playful song.
5. Dear John-This sounds like Avril Lavigne gone country.  It's about an unpredictable, unstable love interest.  You can hear the ache in her voice.
6. Mean-This has a more traditional country feel to it.  It looks to the day when she will make something of herself in the city despite naysayers.

7. The Story of Us-This is new country, and Swift uses her speaking voice on it a bit, to good effect.  It's about the breakdown of a relationship: "Now I'm standing alone in a crowded room/And we're not speaking/And I'm dying to know is it killing you like it's killing me?/I don't know what to say since the twist of fate when it all broke down."
8. Never Grow Up-This one's done in a folk vein.  It encourages young girls and teens to cherish their youth and their parents.  It would fit nicely on Christian radio.
9. Enchanted-This song starts stripped down and then builds.  It's about being infatuated and hoping that person isn't already taken.

10. Better than Revenge-I can see the crowds jumping up and down to this one.  It begins with Swift humorously saying: "Now go stand in the corner and think about what you did."  It's about a girl who steals other girls' guys: "She's not a saint, and she's not what you think/She's an actress, whoa/But she's better known for the things that she does on the mattress/Whoa/Soon she's gonna find stealing other people's toys on the playground won't make you many friends."
11. Innocent-This one is pretty and is encouraging to those who feel they've really messed up: "32 and still growing up now/Who you are is not what you did/You're still an innocent/Time turns flames to embers/You'll have new Septembers."
12. Haunted-This song has Swift throwing her voice a la Alanis Morissette somewhat.
13. Last Kiss-Is a ballad about when a relationship ends and one of the partners can't come to grips with it: "So I'll go sit on the floor wearing your clothes/All that I know is I don't know how to be something you miss/I never thought we'd have a last kiss."
14. Long live-Sees love set on a royal landscape and uses language like 'kings', 'queens', and 'kingdoms'. Sounds like a song of victory and puts me in mind of the Narnia movies and First Knight.

SPEAK NOW is a stellar work of art.  A must have for your collection!