“Speak Now.” These two words are the title of country-pop superstar Taylor Swift’s new album. Just two simple words? Maybe. But these two words do a fantastic job of guiding Swift’s third album, which has shown itself to be a much more cohesive entity than any of Swift’s previous work.
Ever since the release and monumental success of Swift’s sophomore album “Fearless,” she has spent the last two years transcribing the events of her life into intricate song lyrics accompanied by acoustic guitar while simultaneously gravitating more toward a pop sound.
Songwriting is Swift’s forte. She wrote all of the songs on “Speak Now” without any co-writers. The result is very intimate lyrics that more people can connect to. Swift seems to have the ability to elicit a certain atmosphere with each of her songs that draws the listener in and envelopes them in the moment and in a certain emotion.
There is something eloquent and refreshing about hearing someone’s partly unfiltered thoughts and observations. With lyrics about simple themes, Swift creates a common ground for an audience of all ages.
Within each respective song, Swift says something different, whether it be a sincere apology with the track “Back to December,” a call-out of an ex-boyfriend in the blues-inspired “Dear John” or just expressing surprise at the end of a relationship in the ballad “Last Kiss.”
The track “Last Kiss” is rumored to be about former boyfriend and musician Joe Jonas, who Swift says broke up with her in a 27 second phone call. Swift’s great attention to detail is evident in the instrumental introduction of the song which also happens to be exactly twenty-seven seconds long, creating the effect that the phone call just happened and Swift is now singing in a stream of consciousness, recalling her relationship and how she did not expect them to ever share a last kiss.
The sweet melody of this song is juxtaposed with Swift’s voice, which is filled with hints of regret and sorrow, creating a sweet but melancholy sentiment.
Even if someone does not know the details of Swift’s personal life, they will still be able to relate to the honesty in her words. In “Never Grow Up,” Swift sings about the downsides of getting older, inspired by when she moved out by herself, singing, “Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up/Don’t grow up/It could stay this simple” and advising her younger listeners to “take pictures in your mind of your childhood room/Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home/Remember the footsteps, remember the words said/And all your little brother’s favorite songs.”
This album is not at all toned down, however. The fast-moving track, “Better than Revenge,” has Swift calling out a girl for stealing her boyfriend, going as far as to sing, “She’s not a saint, and she’s not what you think/She’s an actress, whoa/But she’s better known for the things she does on the mattress,” reminding us that, although Swift is a sweet girl, she is still not someone to mess with.
The track, “Haunted,” provides listeners with an intense, orchestral string-driven introduction and a fast paced, chaotic song about losing love. The instrumentals in this song are brilliant, reflecting the emotion and lyrics that Swift is belting out.
What is refreshing about Swift is that she does not have to resort to auto-tune and repetition. What makes her songs catchy is the fact that she plucked these lyrics from her own life and they resemble diary entries set to music. Swift is sincere and her voice that has a calming effect on the listener and makes for a very radio-friendly album.
Swift has matured considerably in this album, stepping back from singing about fairy tales and kissing in the rain, two topics that were very prevalent in her previous album. Instead, she now sings about the realities of love, while still incorporating a bit of magical feeling with the track “Enchanted,” where she sings, “This night is sparkling, don’t you let it go/I’m wonderstruck, blushing all the way home/I’ll spend forever wondering if you knew/I was enchanted to meet you.”
Swift’s ability to create sweet songs, such as “Enchanted,” but also more rock-inspired songs, such as “Better Than Revenge,” make for a more versatile listening experience.
Without a doubt, Swift has evolved and “Speak Now” is her best album by far. “Speak Now” represents maturation, realizations and the ability to speak up and say what you feel, because you’ll always regret the things you don’t say more than the things you do.
Rating: 4 out of 5