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Album review: Taylor Swift burns bright with ‘Red’

When Taylor Swift releases a new album, the world shakes a little. Her latest project, “Red,” dropped Monday, and within hours it was the top album on iTunes, and Twitter seemed to be exploding with lyrics from every song followed by #RED. All of which was with good reason.

Swift has the ability to create albums that are not only catchy but have substance and a relatable quality to them. “Red” is no different. Led by its first single, the breakup anthem “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” the album is a 16-song whirlwind of post-country pop-rock that dabbles in heartbreak, joy and everything in between, mixed together as only Swift can do.

The album opens with “State of Grace,” serving as a slow, calm-before-the-storm track, on which Swift sweetly sings, “And I never saw you coming / And I’ll never be the same.” Title track “Red” sweeps in and Swift sings about falling fast, “Loving him is like trying to change your mind / Once you’re already flying through the free fall / Like the colors in autumn / So bright just before they lose it all.”

Each track leaves the listener craving the next lyric, the next note. Swift rarely slips up, and I was hard-pressed to find missteps on the album – although I wasn’t particularly fond of the swinging, sing-song feel of “Stay Stay Stay.”

“I Knew You Were Trouble” confirms Swift’s departure from her country roots, infusing dubstep into one of the most infectious tracks on the album. “All Too Well” brings Swift back to a more mellow singer-songwriter feel, subsequently taking the listener back to moments long gone, with the strum of an acoustic guitar. The track is one of the album’s most tragically beautiful songs.

With “I Almost Do,” Swift perfectly sums up the struggle of losing and missing someone. “And I wish I could run to you / And I hope you know that / Every time I don’t / I almost do, I almost do,” she sings.

Swift brings in Gary Lightbody, lead vocalist of Snow Patrol, for “The Last Time,” and the two compliment each other perfectly in the heartbreakingly desperate song. Also featured on the album is Ed Sheeran on “Everything Has Changed,” a song reminiscent of Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s “Lucky.” This track is much more uplifting as the pair sings, “Cause all I know is we said hello / And your eyes look like coming home.”

Other high points on the album come with the vintage rock-infused “Holy Ground,” and “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” which pierces the soul with its melancholy honesty. The album’s final track, “Begin Again,” might be its best, although it’s so hard to choose just one. Swift’s fans can finally root for her as she sings of a new beginning with, “I’ve been spending the last eight months / Thinking all love ever does / Is break and burn and end / But on a Wednesday in a cafe / I watched it begin again.”

As told through her music, Swift seems to be someone who never gives up on love, even when it gives up on her. And perhaps that’s the best thing about her, and certainly the best thing for her music. “Red” proves Swift is an unstoppable powerhouse with a golden touch.

Grade: A-

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