Review Summary: Each song on Swift’s debut is an experience that she chooses to share with us, straight from the pages of her diary into the microphone and her guitar strings.
I can still remember when my friend came into my college dorm room freshman year and plopped this album on my desk. Now first thing is first, this girl had a pretty bangin’ body...around 5’7, light brown hair and penetrating blue eyes with an hourglass figure…all the while wearing a low cut white tank top and those kinds of jeans that really rounded out her perfect ass. So I figured what the hell, I’ll give this a listen and maybe she’ll stick around, talk for a while, and hopefully one thing will lead to another. But before I even got halfway through the opening track, she left to flirt with the guys across the hallway, leaving just Taylor and I to share an experience. And I fu
cking hated that experience. You see, I abhorred country music at the time, and as “Picture to Burn” blasted out of my speakers, I couldn’t shake the image of farmers wearing overalls and straw hats square dancing in an old barn full of hens and horse shi
t. Little did I know at the time that this isn’t real
country, and that my attractive friend was a complete and utter whore.
Some things just become clearer with time. While I may not have given Taylor Swift’s self-titled album the chance it deserved back in ’06, I certainly have learned to appreciate it in more recent years. While the burgeoning solo artist’s second and third albums have ignited attention across the entire world, her debut has been left in the dust; a mere afterthought. But truth be told, Taylor Swift
has some of the starlet’s most sincere and effortlessly crafted musical pieces out of her entire catalogue. The country twang is heavier on this album than it is on her later releases, although it still carefully straddles the line between country and pop…but “Our Song”, “Stay Beautiful”, and the aforementioned “Picture to Burn” still carry more of a rural/country vibe than the majority of her present day material. It is a country-pop at its bare core, as honest and candid as the mostly artificial genre comes.
Perhaps the most magical quality about Taylor Swift
is that it isn’t so magical. There’s no castles, white horses, or fairy tales…just Swift doing what she does best: lamenting about relationships, betrayal, and boys. “Cold as You”, “Should’ve Said No”, and “Teardrops on My Guitar” are prime examples of a young Taylor scorned, while other songs like “Tim McGraw” and “Stay Beautiful” take a more positive, reminiscent approach. She even deviates from her main points of focus with the emotionally revealing “A Place in this World”, a song indicative of the struggle that every young adult faces at some point as he/she searches for a purpose in life. Each song on Swift’s debut is an experience that she chooses to share with us, straight from the pages of her diary into the microphone and her guitar strings. And despite the fact that we have heard all of these things before (teenage relationship drama? oh, please…) Taylor manages to deliver her ideas with an element of sincerity and forthrightness that is rather refreshing.
In the end, Taylor Swift
is more than just a “let’s see where all the magic started” type of album. While it certainly provides us with that service, it also extends well beyond that and serves as a contrast to Fearless
and Speak Now
. There is no doubt that those two albums launched her career into the all-out ridiculous level of fame that she currently enjoys, but Taylor Swift
is what first captivated the hearts of her dedicated followers. Sitting in my dorm room listening to this at the age of 18, I had no idea how much I would end up enjoying her music. But looking back I am glad that I was left alone to listen to this album, because had my temptingly attractive friend remained in the room, I might have started liking Taylor Swift for all the wrong reasons. Hating this album on my own is what allowed me to come back later and fall in love with the girl whose open, honest letters to the world changed the face of mainstream music today.