Review Summary: A dream come true for fans of pop and country music everywhere.
What more can possibly be said about Taylor Swift" At age 21, she has essentially conquered the world of pop/country music. She has only released two full length albums, yet she is the top selling digital artist in music history. She’s won several awards, including a VMA that unexpectedly featured Kanye West and became one of the most controversial celebrity moments of 2009. She is all over magazines, television, and the movies. Bottom line: if you are looking for the top icon in mainstream music today, Taylor Swift is it.
Yet beyond all the fame and glory that has accumulated for Swift over the past few years, she has managed to maintain an “innocent girl” image. Perhaps it is just another record-selling technique…but even if that is true, it functions wonderfully with the graceful songs that she seems to so effortlessly craft. With lyrical topics that range anywhere from relationships and betrayal to personal reflections about life, it is clear that Swift is just another girl trying to make her way through the trials of young adulthood. Yes, her music is undeniably catchy and ridiculously marketable, but the simplicity and innocence of her songs is what has really launched her career to such admirable heights. With topics that anyone from age 13 to 30 can relate to, Taylor Swift writes straight from her heart and makes accessible, honest pop music that is a rarity in this day and age.
only reaffirms the positive qualities attributed to her music. The album contains songs that are just as much about your average teenage girl as they are about Swift. Tracks like “Fifteen” and “You Belong With Me” express the teenage experience with refreshing clarity. Passages such as In your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy of the football team, but I didn't know it at fifteen
show a deeper side to Swift’s reflections about high school that aren’t insultingly shallow. Thoughtful descriptions and stories are abundant throughout, and they make up what may be the album’s most endearing trait. “Breathe” is another example, which also serves as the Swift’s most accomplished ballad to date with soothing vocals that almost disguise the solemn lyrics:
Never wanted this, never wanna see you hurt
Every little bump in the road I tried to swerve
But people are people
And sometimes it doesn't work out
Moments like these are what elevate Taylor Swift over your average teen pop sensation. Every note she sings and every chord she plays manages to connect with the listener on a personal level. One can almost see her lying down in the grass, letting her thoughts go from her mind to the pencil and paper or straight from her heart to her fingers as she lightly touches each string, finally finding a combination of notes that convey just the right emotion. When this type of image is conjured up in the mind of the listener, you know the music is more than skin-deep.
With that said, Fearless
also has its moments of fantasy and idealism. The hugely successful single “Love Story” comes to mind, with a Romeo and Juliet
storyline and an overall renaissance feel. Even though the whole idea seems a bit contrived, the song has Taylor Swift’s charm, an unspoken sense of innocence, and a very catchy chorus to help it roll on all cylinders. “White Horse” was written in the same vein, but it is more down to Earth lyrically (and can be seen as the undoing of Love Story):
I'm not a princess
This ain't a fairytale
I'm not the one you'll sweep off her feet
Lead her up the stairwell
This ain't Hollywood
This is a small town
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
Now its too late for you and your white horse
To come around
All in all, it seems that Taylor Swift has a vivid imagination, but also knows when to bring things back into reality for the listener’s sake. After all, most people don’t want to hear an album completely riddled with fairytales and happy endings. On Fearless
, there is a perfect balance between happy-go-lucky tales and straight up pop-country tunes.
Speaking of country, the overall genre of this album is debatable. Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut album was about a 50/50 split between pop and country. Fans of the twangy, outdoorsy style displayed on tracks like “Pictures to Burn” from the debut might be a little disappointed at times, as Fearless
lends itself even more to the foundations of pop music. It still displays its definitive country roots (the intro to “You Belong With Me”), but these moments are few and far between while more straight-up radio tunes like “Change” and “You’re Not Sorry” are more abundant than ever. If it is any consolation, Swift’s style lends itself to pop more so than country, although a balance between the two always seem to showcase her at her best. On Fearless
, Taylor Swift has found the formula to make her music accessible for fans of either genre, all the while maintaining a certain magical element that has made her into a cultural icon.
In the end, Fearless
is an album that accomplishes a great deal of things both for Swift as an artist and for listeners everywhere. From a career standpoint, this is a record that could easily stand as the most successful pop/country album of all time. It has sold over 10 million copies to date, and that isn’t even counting the platinum release featuring 6 bonus tracks. From a listener’s perspective, Fearless
is something that will be enjoyed by people with a wide variety of tastes. Sure, there are middle-school students who can’t get enough of her, but there are also some metalheads and rock enthusiasts who will get into this every bit as much. And thanks to the broad range of lyrical content and its overall relevance, the album will also attract listeners of all ages. However, this album has to hold even more meaning for those who supported Swift from the beginning, or who have always been fans of the genre. Simply put, Fearless
is a dream come true for fans of pop and country music everywhere.