by Taylor Swift

Track listing: State Of Grace, Red, Treacherous, I Knew You Were Trouble, All Too Well, 22, I Almost Do, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Stay Stay Stay, The Last Time, Holy Ground, Sad Beautiful Tragic, The Lucky One, Everything Has Changed, Starlight, Begin Again

On Taylor Swift’s new record Red, some might say that she has finally broken out of the mold of country music and has crossed into the rock genre, but after listening to the deluxe version of the album, Swift still has a ways to go.

After releasing three highly successful albums of country pop tunes along with her girl next door personality shining through, it should be no surprise to music fans that Swift’s latest effort Red would follow in her previous record’s footsteps and be a hit. While it’s nice to hear that Taylor is quietly moving towards becoming a fully fledged pop singer, she is staying within her safe writing cocoon and focusing her songwriting efforts what she claims to know best—love and all of the drama that comes with her romantic relationships, while remaining frustratingly cryptic about who she is singing about on Red.

The first track on the album, “State of Grace,” which illustrates all of the possibilities when entering into a new relationship, is the singer’s first foray into rock music. And while it is a good start in this musical experiment, it sounds like Taylor is taking baby steps in order to be conscientious that she does not alienate the fan base who have grown to become extremely loyal. While Swift is not known for having a beautiful voice, “State of Grace” showcases that Taylor can definitely carry a tune with a voice that can be described as pretty. “Treacherous” is another tune that is favorable to Swift’s vocals as it is a quiet song, which displays her talent for being a pop singer, since she does not have a voice powerful enough to carry arena rock songs.

The forth song on the album, “I Knew You Were Trouble” is by far the most overproduced song on the record. Its vocal effects make Swift's voice sound fake, but aims to please her listeners who are only familiar with her singles. “Stay Stay Stay” is a catchy tune that talks about Swift’s most famous topics: love and breakups. In the song, Swift sings about an overindulgent boyfriend and their breakup. While some may tire at hearing about Taylor’s failing relationships, the song is one of the reasons why Taylor’s popularity has remained constant throughout her career—it's a relatable song that young women will eat up.

The highlights of the album are “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Begin Again.” On “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” all country influences have completely disappeared, as the song asks the question of whether or not Taylor is tired of being pigeonholed as a pure country artist. Complete with a catchy chorus and a good breakup story, it became Swift’s number 1 single after its August release. “Begin Again” is a quiet song that describes starting anew on a first date. Beautifully arranged, it is sure to be a fan favorite.

In all, while Red does not live up to the catchiness of her previous albums, it is a good start on the road to what Taylor Swift can become: a versatile artist who can transcend more than one genre. If she plays her cards right, Taylor can have a very long career.

Posted on 11/30/12