Taylor Swift: Red

    On her new album, “Red,” Taylor Swift gives fans a little bit of everything, taking on new sounds while showing off her grace and gusto in ballads that made her famous.  

    While Taylor Swift has always veered closer to pop than traditional country, her fourth studio album sees the artist taking her crossover sensibilities a step further. The Max Martin-produced “I Knew You Were Trouble” is the first glaring example. Though it starts off like any other soft rock song, the odd, artificially modified high notes and syncopation of the vocals don’t prepare the listener for what comes next. The next time the chorus repeats, jolts of juiced treble and tempered bass rattle under Swift’s echoed and replayed voice, bearing resemblance to one of Rihanna’s club ragers (though without the sexually charged lyrics). The singer’s surprise dance tune is a sign of a Swift more committed to pop than ever before.

    Swift calls out more than just a few ex-boyfriends here, as she takes on music snobs in “22,” with a reference to “cool kids” followed by an obnoxious voice asking who Taylor Swift is. This skillful parody sums up the singer’s newfound confidence.

    Unfortunately, Swift doesn’t come out of her shell any more than that. Most of the album is comprised of the singer-songwriter’s trademark lovelorn ballads and amorous tunes. Country fans may take refuge in title track “Red,” in which a banjo offers solace from the pop effects. But all-in-all, Swift has artfully extended her reach to more musical tastes and perhaps even earned herself a new place in old fans’ music libraries. (7/10)

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