Taylor Swift
Fearless


4.5
superb

Review

by mattdwyer16 USER (8 Reviews)
March 16th, 2021 | 0 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On Fearless, Taylor Swift took the first step to her inevitable pop crossover years later

Fearless was Taylor Swift’s true pop debut. Although authentically country like her self-titled debut (even though the fiddle on “Tell Me Why” feels a bit out of place), it doesn’t sound like the country sellouts who poorly disguise a pop album with a banjo and country accent. Fearless is country-pop, not country disguised as pop, or pop disguised as country.*

It will be a long time before anyone has real grounds to accuse Swift of selling out Nashville for a broader audience. Fearless doesn’t use country as a vehicle for popularity. Instead, Swift uses her knack for pop songwriting to make country more accessible. If anything, she’s saving Nashville by writing a pop-oriented record.*

The best storytelling (a hallmark of country music) on Fearless comes on the second track “Fifteen.” It describes high school with knowing detail that young listeners (and damaged adults) will relate to: “In your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team/I didn’t know it at fifteen.” Swift switches between addressing her younger self in second person and telling a story to the listener as her older self, a self who has learned painful lessons but has accomplished some of those “greater things.” The wise lyric, “When you’re fifteen/ and somebody tells you they love you/ you’re gonna believe them,” fitting into a catchy chorus makes Swift an expert songwriter and storyteller.

However, Swift throws away the wounded persona of “Fifteen” quickly. On “You Belong With Me” she anonymously pines after a classmate, singing that his girlfriend is a “cheer captain while I’m on the bleachers,” in a memorable pre-chorus. However, here she plays the role of the "other" girl, who the male love interest in “Fifteen” left Swift’s friend for. (“Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind.”)

Swift plays the underdog convincingly on “You Belong With Me,” comparing her sneakers to the cheer captain's*high heels. But she also enables a man who is, in all likelihood, rightfully in hot water with his girlfriend to leave her. Swift tells him, “You’re on the phone with your girlfriend…she’s going off about something that you said." She's giving the boy permission to dismiss his girlfriend’s emotional needs. Don’t you know, Taylor, that he’ll dismiss yours too? But Swift might be well aware of this, since she plays both the part of the cheerleader and the band geek in the music video.

Swift’s true identity on this album lies in her destiny for bigger and better things. On “White Horse,” she understands the psyche of the man who broke her heart. (“That face on an angel comes out just when you need it to.”) More importantly, she comes to understand her own needs. The chorus of the same song goes, “This ain't Hollywood, this is a small town,” but changes to, “There's a big world, that was a small town, there in my rearview mirror disappearing now,” on the final verse.

Although Fearless is the country-pop sound countless artists spend their careers chasing or recreating, it showcases Swift’s potential to move forward as a person and artist. She experiments with rock on “Change.” And the “redneck heartbreaks” of her debut album are exposed as liars and manipulators on “You’re Not Sorry” and “Tell Me Why,” or simply as “scared little boys” on “Forever and Always.” Maybe this is why Swift gets heat from the press for “writing too much about her boyfriends.” Men don’t like that she’s onto them. Well, they better watch out, because their new opponent is pretty fearless.*



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user ratings (656)
3.3
great
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    SowingSeason STAFF (4)
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    Rudy K. STAFF (4)
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    indiancoffee (2.5)
    Even though she’s arguably the greatest country-pop star this side of Shania Twain, that...

  • Eclectic (3.5)
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    annibannani123 (4)
    Taylor Swift's second album is amazing, and one of the best albums I have ever heard. He...

    connor12 (3.5)
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