Three years after her surprising 3 million-selling (and counting) self-titled debut, Taylor Swift’s second album, Fearless, is a superb sophomore effort jam-packed from beginning to end with potential hit singles. And though she still can’t seem to catch a break from the fickle and cruel boys in her algebra and social studies classes, Swift now appears better equipped to process the trials and tribulations of high school heartache.
Swift Is Growing Up
Lacking much of the over-the-top vengeance found on her excellent debut album, Taylor Swift , Swift’s songwriting is more restrained and subtle on Fearless (she wrote or co-wrote every song on the album). Her songs are heartfelt narratives set to well-produced and structured music with the subject of love the common theme—be it love for a boy, love for her parents, or the thoughtful love of trying to protect a young girl from making the same mistakes she has. Sometimes naïve and always age-appropriate, it’s refreshing to hear a talented artist, especially a young woman in the skanked-up era of Britney and The Pussycat Dolls, spill her heart out on the table with such believable honesty. And that she’s doing this without the aid of a hit television show on the Disney Channel to back her up is a testament to her immense talent. Sure, she’s still singing predominately to the pep rally crowd, and she’s already proven herself a master at writing radio-friendly hits, but with Fearless, Swift has also announced to the world that she is a bona-fide singer-songwriter with important things to say, one whose wisdom belies her still very young age.
The Blurry Lines Between Country and Pop
Fearless shows that Swift is unafraid to simultaneously tackle (and dominate) both the country and pop genres. Almost every song on this meticulously-crafted album has the potential of charting high on both charts. For every subtle mandolin or fiddle you might hear, an electric guitar or some lush orchestration might be just around the corner. Country diehards will easily, and with merit, argue that Fearless is anything but country, but that’s okay because this album isn’t necessarily meant for them (though if her first album is any indicator, hardcore country types will lap Fearless up anyway). Hailing from Pennsylvania, Swift’s voice has no semblance of twang to it, which further blurs the line for anyone hell-bent on declaring that her music is not country. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But plenty of country fans love it just the same.
'Fearless' Is a Bona-Fide Hit Parade
The term “prodigious” has been bandied about in country music for ages. Tanya Tucker, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss and scores of other artists who burst onto the scene at very young ages were all labeled prodigious talents, and for good reason. Well, there’s a new sheriff in prodigy town, and her name is Taylor Swift . This girl knows how to write a chart-topping song. In “Love Story,” the first single released from Fearless, she takes on the role of Juliet, begging “Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone/ I’ll be waiting/ All there’s left to do is run/ You’ll be the prince, and I’ll be the princess/ It’s a love story, baby, just say yes.” For those who watched the excellent CMT Crossroads Swift did with Def Leppard, and a whopping 4.5 million people did watch the first few airings, it was oddly charming watching Leppard frontman, Joe Elliot, singing “you be the princess/ I’ll be the prince.” Funny thing is, it worked.
Swift’s Now Old Enough to Give Advice
As 18-year old Swift has matured as a woman, Fearless proves she is growing right before our very eyes as a songwriter, too. In particular, “Fifteen” is a wonderfully crafted song which serves as a gentle reminder to younger girls not to let their hearts get in the way of making good decisions: “But in your life you’ll do greater things than/ Dating the boy on the football team/ But I didn’t know it at fifteen.” It’s not hard to envision Swift sitting alone after school in the bleachers on some chilly February afternoon, scribbling these words in her spiral notebook: “Abigail gave everything she had/ To a boy who changed his mind.” Yes, Swift is growing up.
Release date: November 11, 2008
Label: Big Machine (Universal Music Group)
Best Songs on 'Fearless'
- "The Best Day"
- "You Belong with Me"
- "Love Story"
- "White Horse"