Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989. She was raised in Wyomissing, PA and when she was fourteen moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. The rest, as they say, is history. She has won 7 Grammy’s, 12 Billboard Music Awards, 11 CMA Awards, and 7 Academy of Country Music Awards. Some of her more popular songs are: ‘Tim McGraw’, ‘Love Story’, ‘Mean’, ‘Red’, and ‘22’. Her latest album 1989 came out on October 27, 2014 and is her first all out pop album. She was inspired by the likes of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Annie Lennox, Madonna, and Fine Young Cannibals. It sold over a million copies in the first week and debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200. Here I will be reviewing the Deluxe Edition of 1989 which contains 15 tracks. In the liner notes Taylor writes: “In the world we live in, much is said about when we are born and when we die. Our birthday is celebrated every year to commemorate the very instant we came into the world. And a funeral is held to mark the day we leave it. But lately I’ve been wondering...What can be said of all the moments in between our birth and our death? The moments when we are reborn?”
The album opener ‘Welcome to New York’ is a co-write with OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder. It has a decidedly 80’s pop feel to it and is based on Taylor’s relocation to the Big Apple and opens with these words: “Walking through a crowd/The village is aglow/Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats/Everybody here wanted something more/Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before/And it said/’Welcome to New York/It’s been waiting for you/Welcome to New York (3X)/It’s been waiting for you/Welcome to New York’”. Taylor’s co-writers on ‘Blank Space’ are Max Martin and Shellback. This song includes shouts and stomps and these intriguing lyrics: “Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/Cause you know I love the players and you love the game/Cause we’re young and we’re reckless/We’ll take this way too far/It’ll leave you breathless/Or with a nasty scar/Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/But I’ve got a blank space baby/And I’ll write your name”. ‘Style’ is a smooth-flowing pop song that includes these frisky lyrics: “He can’t keep his wild eyes on the road/Takes me home/Lights are off, he’s taking off his coat/I say ‘I heard-oh/That you’ve been out and about with some other girl’/He says ‘What you heard is true, but I can’t stop thinking about you’/And I said ‘I’ve been there too a few times.../Take me home (3X)’”.
‘Out of the Woods’ is a co-write with Jack Antonoff, who also provides backing vocals. This highly contagious pop ballad is likely about Taylor’s failed romance with Harry Styles of One Direction: “Remember when you hit the brakes too soon/20 stitches in a hospital room/When you started crying, baby I did too/But when the sun came up/I was looking at you/Remember when we couldn’t take the heat/I walked out/I said ‘I’m setting you free’/But the monsters turned out to be just trees/When the sun came up, you were looking at me”. ‘All you had to do was Stay’ is addressed to an ex-partner: “Here you are now calling me up/But I don’t know what to say/I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made/People like you always want back/The love they pushed aside/But people like me are gone forever/When you say ‘Goodbye’”. ‘Shake it Off’, written with Max Martin and Shellback, is the album’s debut single that has a swell video to go with it. This infectious pop/dance number makes use of trombone, saxophone, trumpet, claps, and shouts. The lyrics are directly addressed to Taylor’s critics: “I stay out too late/Got nothing in my brain/That’s what people say...mmm (2X)/I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay/At least that’s what people say...mmm.../And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate/Baby, I’m just gonna/Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake/Shake it off/Shake it off”.
‘I Wish You Would’ is a song of regret: “I wish you would come back/Wish I never hung up the phone like I did, wish you knew that/I’ll never forget you as long as I live/And I wish you were right here/Right now it’s all good/Wish you would”. ‘Bad Blood’ is a pulsating pop song that reminds us of the serious harm that we humans can inflict on each other: “Did you think we’d be fine?/Still got scars on my back from your knife so/Don’t think it’s in the past/These kinds of wounds/They last and they last now.../Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes”. ‘Wildest Dreams’ is an airy, atmospheric ballad with strings arranged by Mattias Bylund and Taylor Swift credited with ‘heartbeat’. The song finds Taylor frolicking with a guy: “I said ‘No one has to know what we do’/His hands are in my hair/His clothes are in my room/And his voice is a familiar sound/Nothing lasts forever/But this is getting good now/He’s so tall and handsome as hell/He’s so bad but he does it so well...”.
‘How you get the Girl’ is a catchy pop tune that offers advice: “Remind her how it used to be/With pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks/Tell her how you must have lost your mind/When you left her all alone/And never told her why”. ‘This Love’ is the only song on the album written solely by Taylor. Nathan Chapman plays electric guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. This quiet ballad looks at relationships as marathons and not as sprints: “This love is good/This love is bad/This love is alive/Back from the dead/Oh, these hands had to let it go free/And this love came back to me.../When you’re young, you just run/But you come back to what you need”. ‘I Know Places’ speaks of how hard it is to preserve romantic relationships that are always under the microscope of the public eye: “I can hear them whisper as we pass by/Bad sign/Something happens when everybody finds out/See the vultures circling, dark clouds/Love’s a fragile little flame/It could burn out (2X)/Cause they got the cages, they got the boxes and guns/They are the hunters/We are the foxes/And we run”.
‘Clean’ closes out the standard edition of 1989. It is a co-write with Imogen Heap who plays several instruments on the song, including the vibraphone, and performs backing vocals. This one is about letting go of another person: “Rain came pouring down when I was drowning/That’s when I could finally breathe and by morning/Gone was any trace of you/I think I am finally clean”. Two bonus tracks are found on the deluxe edition. ‘Wonderland’ has an R&B influence and recalls a modern tragedy: “I reached for you but you were gone/I knew I had to go back home/You searched the world for something else/To make you feel like what we had/And in the end in wonderland/We both went mad”. ‘New Romantics’ has a happy pop sound and includes these optimistic lyrics: “We are too busy dancing to get knocked off our feet/Baby, we’re the new romantics/The best people in life are free”.
With 1989 Taylor Swift has done something few artists can do effectively with ease. She has changed musical genres, in her case, from country to 80’s pop. These new songs are pure magic musically and vocally. They will draw old and new fans in alike. Her songs still tell stories to good effect and that is what makes her music so relatable and endearing. Taylor is easily my favorite female mainstream artist. The pics of her (and there are many) included with this deluxe edition of 1989 are beautiful. I’m rating 1989, the deluxe edition, 95%. For more info visit: www.taylorswift.com and www.bigmachinelabelgroup.com.