Review of Taylor Swift's new CD: "Speak Now", by Sherry Bach
Let me preface this review by saying that I am one of those Taylor Swift fans who was captivated from the first moment I heard her voice; there was something about the frequency that held me spellbound. I was driving with my thirteen year old daughter and she heard "Tim MaGraw" on the radio. She asked me if I had heard it yet; we are very much into music and my daughter wanted my opinion. As she turned up the volume I listened, not knowing who the singer was or even what she looked like. It took about ten seconds for me to say, "Oh my gosh! Whoever that is, is going to be a mega-superstar." That was five years ago and I have never wavered from thoroughly enjoying every aspect of Taylor Swift's voice and music. In addition to that, I am impressed by how she has carried herself through these past five years, which is a testament to her parents because I know that great kids don't happen by accident.
"Speak Now" is by far the best creative project Ms. Swift has ever produced. Musically, it is nothing short of brilliant and Nathan Chapman once again has showcased his incredible talent and how he can successfully marry his talents to the creativity of an artist without ruining the authenticity of that artist's work; something few producers can claim.
"Mine", and "Sparks Fly" are the two songs on the CD that sound the most like Ms. Swift's past projects; they are upbeat and exciting with a little maturity thrown in for good measure. I consider these songs a type of bridge to her newer more mature sound. Regarding "Sparks Fly" who can't relate to seeing someone across a room, making eye contact and noticing right away there is a connection, but not knowing if it will ever be anything? And the "Mine" music video produced by Roman White is sure to be an award winner.
"Back to December" is a ballad about looking back to a time before a certain decision and getting a "re-do" and it is one of my favorites on the CD. This song would be a welcome change on country radio where everything lately has begun to sound the same; I hope to see it climb the charts.
"Speak Now", the title track, is a clever lyric about wanting to speak up during a wedding when they tell you to "speak now or forever hold your peace". This is a different new sound for Taylor, as her voice flirts with her upper range breaking over into even higher notes.
As Ms. Swift branches out in life a little farther away from her parents, sometimes making decisions that her mother may not approve of, we hear a deeper development of Taylor's lyrics depicting adult type lessons learned as in "Dear John", my second favorite, where she sings, "…my mother accused me of losing my mind, but I swore I was fine." There is definitely an evidence of a new musical influence producing growth in melody and sound for Taylor in this song. Hmmm…I wonder who could have spurred on that growth for her?
Another one of my favorite songs on the CD is "Mean". It starts out with Taylor's voice and a banjo. I love that this song was obviously produced for country radio where, when played, it will surely make some think about all the criticism they gave Ms. Swift after her performance with Stevie Nicks, as it rides up the charts as I predict it will. Good for her that she is speaking out. If we go back and eliminate all of the recording artists who were not perfect singers, we would eliminate such greats as the Beatles and Garth Brooks. This is the negative side of "American Idol" seeping into the music world; it has made us believe that every singer is in a talent contest when in fact it is about connecting to people's souls with music; make no mistake that is what music has always been about. American Idol has deceived us into thinking everyone has to sing like Carrie Underwood in order to be considered talented. Well, I've got a news flash…I own every Taylor Swift CD, but none of Carrie Underwood. It's not that I do not like her voice, she is a wonderful singer, clearly a better technical singer than Taylor, but the frequency of her voice and her songs do not appeal to me on a consistent basis like Taylor's. Besides it's about touching hearts and lives and who cares how you do it? The sales don't lie! Taylor has touched consumer's souls very successfully. It is a proven fact that buying individuals do not purchase product if they don't like you or your product so for those who want to find fault with someone whose success invokes jealousy, the joke is on you, as I'm sure "Speak Now" will be more successful for Taylor than "Fearless". When this CD sells more copies than her last CD, and more than any other recording artist for the year, what then? What will you say then?
To Taylor: You Go Girl! Speak Now! I wish you much success.
I'm not sure what to say about the fabulous "Never Grow Up" except that I don't know how much it will explode, but it WILL explode; that you can be sure of. Ms. Swift and her team are experts at relating to, and writing for her demographic and young teenage girls will go crazy over this song. I can even see the young ones who were too young to know who she was five years ago, climbing on board now with this song. On the other hand, I am not in Taylor's typical demographic but "Never Grow Up" made me think of raising my own children, wanting to protect them from all evil, and wishing that they could have stayed little forever.
I can't remember ever hearing a song with: I was "Enchanted" to meet you in it but leave it to Ms. Swift to find a way to build an entire song around such a magical word and an encounter. Some might say that they can't relate to Taylor's teenage songs but come on! Haven't you ever met someone, been enchanted by them and wondered if they were in love with someone else and whether or not you had a chance? How long will it be before you tell someone, "I was enchanted to meet you"?
"Better Than Revenge" is just a killer female ranting about having your guy stolen away by another woman. Two years later Taylor does get the last word in this song, claiming the girl in question is better known for what she does on the mattress.
"Innocent" provides encouragement as Taylor says, "…everyone has messed up…today is never too late to be brand new…"
I predict "Haunted" will be very popular on the pop charts and will maybe even pull in some new fans for Taylor because her voice on this song sounds different, more grown up, not country, and in some parts rests lazily around her lower voice range. The song is alternative rock in my opinion; great song.
If I had to pick a fourth favorite, which is hard to do with a CD where every single song is so fabulous, I would pick "Last Kiss". Taylor's voice, as well as the music production is soulful and deep, almost light, slow jazz.
Ms. Swift's ability to put words to music and sing those songs in a way that makes a person feel alive is uncanny and I am proud to be called a die-hard Taylor Swift fan (just ask my kids) even though I do not fit into her typical demographic; my children are grown and I am about the same age as Taylor's mom.
"Speak Now" is an extremely well balanced compilation of songs, some with a country feel, some pop, AC and even alternative rock. I am on the twelfth time through the CD and it just gets better. Yes, of course I have the Deluxe version!
It is exciting to consider the future for Taylor Swift. Where will she go? What will she do? Obviously she has a good head on her shoulders; she's beautiful, very talented and has an impressive team around her providing us with a bright spot in a dark economy by touching our souls with her music.
Thanks for reading my opinion,
Please feel free to find me on facebook or visit my website for more information about me than you'd ever want to know. www.sherrybach.com