Why Red is the definitive Taylor Swift album

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It’s clear that Taylor Swift takes criticism of her music seriously. When a music journalist wrote that Swift “can’t sing,” she responded by writing a song about him called “Mean.” In the documentary Miss americanaSwift video herself gets the news that her sixth album Reputation has not been nominated for any major Grammy Awards. It can be seen wounded, with tears in her eyes, she says: “You know what, it’s okay. I just need to make the record better. “

When RedTaylor Swift’s fourth album, was nominated for a 2014 Grammy, but didn’t win Album of the Year, she didn’t shrug it off. After skipping parties, she went home, ordered In-n-Out and burst into tears. Lying in bed that night, she began to think about why Red did not take home the highest award. Reflecting on that night later, she said, “You have several options if you don’t win the award. You might decide something like, “Oh, they’re wrong! Everyone voted wrong! Secondly, you can say, “I will go on stage and take the microphone from whoever won it.” Or third, you can say, “Maybe they’re right. Maybe I did No make my career record. Maybe I need to solve the problem, which was that I didn’t make sound coherent albums. ” She used the phrase “acoustically connected” so often that fans turned it into a meme.

By that time Red came out, Swift has long been considered a “crossover” artist – her music encompassed both country and pop music. She has been praised for leading a new audience of teenage girls to country music, as well as for bringing country tunes and lyrical observations to pop music. Swift describes Red as a “patchwork quilt” and a “slightly multiple personality”, blaming a “scared record label” too scared to see her let go of her country roots. Although it contained some of her most popular dance-pop hits to date, Red was featured at the 2014 Grammy Awards as a country album.

Is it true that Red – reissued as Red (Taylor’s version) November 12th as part of the Swift rewrite project is a mix of styles. The banjo in the title track is separated from the dubstep track “I Knew You Were Trouble” by just one song. The epic melancholy of the guitar ballad “All Too Well” turns into the sweet gum “22”. It’s not one but two misguided collaborations with alternative pop artists Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and the nostalgic, teen-centered “Starlight” sounds like it’s from a much earlier Swift record.

But despite being naughty and uneven, it also contains some of the best songs in her back catalog. It may not be sound coherent, but it is aesthetically pleasing, thematically and narratively coherent. Yes, it fluctuates greatly between moods – but the same with broken grief. Perhaps this is Taylor Swift’s album, the most irreconcilable with Taylor Swift. Maybe she didn’t make her career record – but maybe she did.

Swift called Red her “One Real Broken Heart Album”, which tells the story of the beginning and end of a short, intense relationship that unfolded during the fall months between Swift and the man many believed to be Jake Gyllenhaal (seen together between October and December 2010). The album began to take shape after she wrote the title track, a nostalgic yet painful memory of a whirlwind love affair that ended abruptly: “Losing it was blue … His absence was dark gray … But loving him was red.” She began to organize the record around the tumultuous emotions of this romance and the subsequent breakup: passion, disappointment, joy, excitement and anger.

Red it is a love story seen in the rearview mirror. Sometimes, in the most bitter moments of the recording, tormented by memories, Swift seems to regret what ever happened; in others, she seems grateful for the risk. “Nothing safe is worth the drive,” she sings in State of Grace, a reflective, drum-heavy novella that turns romance into “ruthless play.”

The album contains some of her greatest compositions: tense, energetic tracks, the platonic song ideal of Taylor Swift. Encompassing yet intimate and focused on a single image, the moving melody “Red” is conveyed with more exciting and emotional vocals than Swift has used before (and which she cannot fully reproduce in a new version of the classic LP.). Holy Ground’s stomping foot has an even greater sense of momentum as Swift catches the feeling of leaping headlong into a new relationship without stopping to look down. The warm harmonies on “Begin Again” (more pronounced on the new record) are both reflective and reassuring.

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“All Too Well,” an album track that has nevertheless become an absolute fan favorite among her most loyal listeners, is delightfully relaxed, reveling in the theatricality of a broken heart: “You call me again to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of honesty / I am the crumpled sheet of paper lying here. ” The long-awaited new ten-minute version is perhaps even better: it is filled with the more dreamy and voluminous production style of her last two albums. Folklore and Forever, he leans even more to these extremes. “They say that everything is fine, that ends well, but I’m in a new hell / Every time you stop my thoughts,” Swift sings in a brittle voice. “You said that if we were closer in age, maybe everything would be fine / And it made me want die“.

Swift’s music has always had a diary-specific character, but in All Too Well, she seemed ready to convey evocative details from her life without restriction, revealing the ups and downs of the relationship in forensic, cinematic detail: a trip to the upstate, two people dance in the light cast by the open refrigerator door, their favorite scarf hidden in the drawer of their ex.

This scarf has gained mythical status in pop culture folklore and symbolizes how defiantly Red refers to a specific time with a specific feeling associated with it. It may be chaos, but it is appropriately organized chaos. “Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a man with a broken heart, ”said Taylor Swift, announcing the album as her last re-recording. “It was all over the place, a torn mosaic of feelings that eventually somehow coincided.” You can feel the words “acoustically connected” still ringing in her ears. And yet to fans of Taylor Swift, who often talk about her career in the “eras”, Swift Red The era is certainly its most definite: autumn, melodramatic, brooding, loud. Falling leaves, hot coffee, bright red lipstick, plaid shirts, knitwear. The extinction of the once scorching sun. Longing and nostalgia. And a whisper about a new beginning too.

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