Music Review: Taylor Swift Branches Out…. A Lot

Two weeks ago, the blonde bombshell from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania released her fourth studio album, “Red.” On the initial listen-through, though, it is hard to picture Swift as the first country artist to have won a Video Music Award. There is just so much going on that few would consider it even among the most progressive of contemporary country music. However, after the first round it becomes apparent that Swift has not forgotten her country roots completely. She is simply using them as a base to branch out and grow as an artist and entertainer.

In a recent interview with CMT Insider, Swift tried to explain her new album. “Every song sounds different from every other song, so you have a lot of country, a lot of pop, and a lot of acoustic… But for me, this album was about making every song sound how it felt. And it was an interesting goal to achieve because it’s not as easy as ‘We need to put more fiddle on that. We need to make that bass more heavy.’ It’s really more about finding a feeling, so there are influences from every genre on this record.”

And boy are there ever smatterings from every genre. The first track opens up with a bass drum and electric guitar riff that could fit very nicely into any pop rock style album. Then it moves into more familiar territory with an acoustic guitar accompanied by an electric guitar before suddenly introducing a synthesizer. And, if that is not enough variation, by the fourth song, country has been cast aside in favor of what Rolling Stone Magazine calls a “dubstep-inspired bass breakdown.” While these dubstep homages have become ever more popular, Swift still manages to take it, wrap it up in emotion, and package it with her own flair.

The most remarkable aspect of this album though is that despite jumping from genre to genre, the album really does become one cohesive unit. It is not a surprise then that Swift was the youngest artist to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. “Red” has already broken world records despite barely being out for two weeks. Opening with sales of $1.2 million, “Red” debuted as the highest sales record in a decade. It seems that Swift has opened a new door with “Red” and it will be exciting to see not only how she continues to progress and grow as an artist, but also how other artists will respond and how music itself will evolve.

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