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Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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It’s important to remember that before becoming a gold-standard pop star, Taylor Swift grew up on Nashville country music. Music City's folklore now seems a long way off for the thirty-year-old singer. However, Taylor Swift has never stopped dipping her pen into the same ink as her cowgirl elders, perfectly handling romance, heartbreak, introspection, sociopolitical commentary and personal experiences, such as when she sang of her mother’s cancer on Soon You’ll Get Better… It was in lockdown, with restricted means and limited casting, that she put together Folklore, released in the heart of summer 2020. The first surprise here is Aaron Dessner on production. By choosing The National’s guitarist, whom she considers one of her idols, Swift has opted for a musician with sure-footed tastes and boosted her credibility among indie music fans. She hammers this home on Exile with Justin ‘Bon Iver’ Vernon (the album’s only duet), a close friend of Dessner's with whom he formed Big Red Machine.This surprising, even unusual album for Swift is by no means a calculated attempt to flirt with the hipsters. And it really is unusual for her! No pop bangers, nor the usual dig aimed at Kanye West; the album is free of supercharged beats and has delicate instrumentation (piano, acoustic guitar, Mellotron, mandolin, slides…). Folklore toes a perfect line between silky neo-folk and dreamy rock. It’s as if the star had tucked herself away in a cabin in the forest to dream up new ideas, much like Bon Iver did in his early days… By laying her music bare and relieving it of its usual chart music elements, Taylor Swift has added more substance to her discography. This is clear on August, which would never have resonated as well if it had been produced by a Max Martin type… Upon announcing the album, Swift wrote online: “Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.” A wise decision for a beautiful and mature record. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Pop - Released August 23, 2019 | Taylor Swift

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« I forgot that you existed, And I thought that it would kill me, but it didn't. » Does Taylor Swift still hold a grudge ? From the opening moments of Lover, you’d be hard pressed to think otherwise. At a first glance, it would seem that the venomous tongue so prominent on Reputation (2017) is on the warpath again, feuding against Kanye West, Katy Perry or her ex… But the superstar has more tact and good sense than to needlessly prolong any in-fighting. Maintaining a mostly indifferent stance to the much-publicised conflicts, her seventh album blends romantic pop, deep introspection and socio-political commentary on the United States as a whole, whilst never straying too far without reminding us of her country singer-songwriter roots. The first and foremost example is the acoustic gem Lover, where she pays tribute to her partner of three years, Joe Alwyn. Far from being sirupy, she has a few humorous notes: « Swear to be overdramatic and true to my lover / And you'll save all your dirtiest jokes for me ». The waltz’s light-hearted tone is follow by t The Man’s activist synth-pop. She jokes: « If I was flashing my dollars I’d be a bitch not a baller ». The title itself is a clear explicitation of her feminist message – how would she have been portrayed by the media if she had been a man ? – her questioning stance verges on disillusion, albeit with some nuance, with Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince. American high schools are reinterpreted as a symbol of the United States’ decline: « American glory faded before me / Now I'm feeling hopeless, ripped up my prom dress / Running through rose thorns, I saw the scoreboard / And ran for my life ». Swift also dedicates You Need To Calm Down to all the homophobic haters, as a way of telling them that their outrage and agitation are in vain.  The best moments of Lover are those where the 29-year old reduces the cotton-candy production to a minimum, letting the listener get a glimpse of her private life – outside of any real-life-fantasy boyfriend. Soon You’ll Get Better could have just been acoustic filler – a simple, calm moment intended to make these 18 tracks more digestible. However,  by tackling her mother’s cancer, the ensuing chaos and panic, and her own feelings about that traumatic time, Swift centers the focus of the album on the diverse experiences of love, with a newfound maturity. Lover might be a pop record, by one of the biggest superstars in the past decade, but it’s also the proof that in 2019, the genre doesn’t necessarily rhyme with empty or tasteless. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Pop - Released October 27, 2014 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 18, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Pop - Released November 17, 2017 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Pop - Released November 10, 2017 | Big Machine Records, LLC

On 19 June 2006, someone called Taylor Swift released her first single, Tim McGraw, a straightforward homage to the country singer of the same name. She was only 17 and stood out as a potential future queen of country pop... A good decade later, queen she is: but of pop tout court! The Disney cowgirl getup is gone, replaced by the pop R&B icon who has conquered the heights of the charts, but who, above all, has been able to impose her style and her writing as a canonical part of the modern genre. With Reputation, her royal crown never threatens to fall from her head. On the contrary. With this sixth album, Taylor Swift certainly has not equalled 1989, her most accomplished record released in 2014, though she confirms that she is to her times what Madonna was to the 80s and 90s. Really, it should be enjoyed for what it is: great pop, with catchy choruses, pumped–up production (the Swedish pairing of Max Martin/Shellback as well as the American Jack Antonoff are in charge here) and her autobiographical lyrics which juggle with looove, liiife, fruuustration, saaadness, haaappiness, etc. Here, Taylor Swift unburdens her soul, in particular about how the limelight can burn, especially on Call It What You Want where she explains that she isn't what she's said to be… this saccharine orgy concludes with an even more melancholy piano ballad, New Year’s Day. We leave Reputation realising that the star has pulled clearly away ahead of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. © CM/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released September 21, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Pop - Released August 23, 2019 | Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift sings "If I was a man, I'd be The Man" on a song that arrives just as Lover, her seventh studio album, starts to get underway. It's not bragging if it's true. Perhaps 2017's Reputation didn't dominate the popular consciousness the way her 2014 pop breakthrough 1989 did, but that was partially by design. Hard and steely, Reputation announced the arrival of an adult Taylor -- a conscious maturation that didn't bother disguising its seams. Lover, in contrast, is a bit messier, almost defiantly so. Swift retains Jack Antonoff -- the former fun. captain who has been at her side since 2014's 1989 -- as her chief collaborator, and while the duo remains besotted by the chillier aspects of late '80s synth pop, not everything here plays like a sleek, sexy update on T'Pau. Certainly, "The Archer" basks within the glow of its retro analog synths, dredging up memories of both "Out of the Woods" and "Heart and Soul," yet its iciness isn't the primary color on Lover. Swift does return to this glassiness on occasion, warming its chill on the mini-epic "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince," but Lover is bright, lively, and openhearted, encompassing a full range of human emotion. Happily, this includes a hefty dose of silliness: never mind the effervescence of "Paper Rings," the closest thing to pure bubblegum Taylor has ever recorded, the inclusion of a spoken introduction from Idris Elba on "London Boy" is giddily goofy. Swift smartly balances these pieces of pure pop with songs that tap into a deep reservoir of complex feelings. Listen closely to "The Man," and it becomes clear the song is neither a boast nor a manifesto but rather a bit of clear-eyed anger at institutional sexism. "The Man" isn't the only place where Swift tackles political issues. On "You Need to Calm Down," she offers an anthem for allies, writing a manifesto that is perhaps a bit too on the nose, but that directness can be an asset. Witness "Soon You'll Get Better," a quivering and candid prayer for healing where she's assisted by the Dixie Chicks; her pleas for her ailing loved one to get better are all the more affecting by being affectless. Swiftian scholars could argue "Soon You'll Get Better" is written for her mother, just like "I Forgot That You Existed" is a riposte against some unnamed online critic, but decoding the inspirations behind Lover diminishes an album so generous and colorful. More than either 1989 or Reputation, Lover seems fully realized and mature: Swift is embracing all aspects of her personality, from the hopeful dreamer to the coolly controlled craftsman, resulting in a record that's simultaneously familiar and surprising. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Red

Country - Released October 22, 2012 | Big Machine Records, LLC

Taylor Swift designed her 2012 album Red as her breakthrough into the pop market -- a crossover she pulled off with ease, elevating her to the rarefied air of superstars who can be identified by a single name. Red may not be flawless -- it runs just a shade too long as it sprints along in its quest to be everything to everyone -- but there's an empowering fearlessness in how Swift shakes off her country bona fides. Leaving Nashville behind, she rushes to collaborate with Britney Spears hitmaker Max Martin and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, along with mainstream rock mainstays Dan Wilson and Butch Walker. Appropriately for an album featuring so many producers, Red isn't sequenced like a proper album, it's a buffet, offering every kind of sound or identity a Swift fan could possibly want. Taylor deftly shifts styles, adapting well to the insistent pulse of Martin, easing into a shimmering melancholy reminiscent of Mazzy Star ("Sad Beautiful Tragic"), and coolly riding a chilly new wave pulse ("The Lucky One"). Combined with the unabashed arena rock fanfare of "State of Grace," the dance-pop of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and the dubstep feint "I Knew You Were Trouble" -- not to mention the cheerfully ludicrous club-filler "22" -- Red barely winks at country, and it's a better album for it. It is, as all pop albums should be, recognizable primarily as the work of Taylor Swift alone: her girlish persona is at its center, allowing her to try on the latest fashions while always sounding like herself. Although she can still seem a little gangly in her lyrical details -- her relationship songs are too on the nose and she has an odd obsession about her perceived persecution by the cool kids -- these details hardly undermine the pristine pop confections surrounding them. If anything, these ungainly, awkward phrasings humanizes this mammoth pop monolith: she's constructed something so precise that its success seems preordained, but underneath it all, Taylor is still twitchy, which makes Red not just catchy but compelling. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 27, 2014 | Big Machine Records, LLC

1989 is the record on which the onetime country star fully embraced electro-pop — vocal reverb, ice-cold drums and all. Excitable opener "Welcome to New York" is as big and shiny as the city's skyscrapers on a summer morning. It has zero chill, but Taylor Swift insists she's in on the joke with the haters-be-damned "Shake It Off," a spinning cartwheel of horn skronk, drum splashes and Motown backing vocals. That self-awareness continues on the slinkily baroque "Blank Space" (which cheekily addresses the singer's man-eater reputation) and "Bad Blood" ("still got scars in my back from your knives," she slings at a rival). But at a certain point, it's better to stop analyzing and dance. "Style" and "All You Had to Do Was Stay" sparkle with disco-ball shimmer. With its Minimoog hum and vocal loops, "Out of the Woods" could be an '80s movie soundtrack gem. The last few tracks wind down like the end of a long night, and it's closer "Clean," that offers the biggest surprise of 1989 with its lush, Roxy Music sprawl. © Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released August 21, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Pop - Released November 9, 2017 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released January 1, 2009 | Big Machine Records, LLC

Taylor Swift abandons any pretense that she's a teen on her second album, Fearless -- which isn't to say that she suddenly tarts herself up, running away from her youth in a manner that's all too familiar to many teen stars. Swift's maturation is deliberate and careful, styled after the crossover country-pop of Shania Twain and Faith Hill before they turned into divas. Despite the success of her self-titled 2006 debut, there's nothing at all diva-like about Swift on 2008's Fearless: she's soft-spoken and considerate, a big sister instead of a big star. Nowhere is this truer than on "Fifteen," a kind warning for a teen to watch her heart sung from the perspective of a woman who's perhaps twice that age -- a sly trick for the 18-year-old Swift. There may be a hint of youthfulness to her singing but that's the only hint of girlishness here; her writing -- and she had a hand in penning all 13 tracks here, with six of them bearing her solitary credit -- is sharply, subtly crafted and the music is softly assured, never pushing its hooks too hard and settling into a warm bed of guitars and keyboards. Like many country-pop albums of the 2000s, the pop heavily outweighs the country -- there aren't fiddles here, there are violins -- yet Fearless never feels garish, a crass attempt at a crossover success. It's small-scale and sweetly tuneful, always seeming humble even when the power ballads build to a big close. Swift's gentle touch is as enduring as her songcraft, and this musical maturity may not quite jibe with her age but it does help make Fearless one of the best mainstream pop albums of 2008. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 6, 2019 | Taylor Swift

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Pop - Released January 31, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Pop - Released December 6, 2019 | Taylor Swift

Alternative & Indie - Released August 24, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2020 | Taylor Swift

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Country - Released October 25, 2010 | Big Machine Records, LLC

When Kanye West bum-rushed Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs, the world rallied around Swift not because Kanye was a “jackass,” as President Obama so succinctly summarized, but because the singer/songwriter conveyed the fragility of adolescence on her 2008 breakthrough, Fearless, so successfully that she inspired instinctive protectiveness even among those who never spent much time with the record. Not timid or a tart, Swift seemed like a genuine girl on Fearless, perhaps treating her songs a little too much like diaries, but that only made them more affecting. If anything, Swift ramps up the confessions on her 2010 sequel, Speak Now, but circumstances have changed: few listeners, if any, would have a clue about the identity of the boy who belongs with Taylor, but now that she’s a superstar, anybody with a passing familiarity with pop culture can discern which songs are about Kanye, Taylor Lautner (her ex), or Camilla Belle (the actress girl who stole Joe Jonas out from under our heroine). Not that Swift takes great pains to disguise who she’s writing about -- not when she’s writing “Dear John,” an elegant evisceration of lecherous lothario John Mayer. Such gossip mongering is titillating but fleeting, suggesting that the charms of Speak Now are insubstantial, but Swift’s gift is that she sets the troubled mind of an awkward age in stone. She writes from the perspective of the moment yet has the skill of a songwriter beyond her years, articulating contradictions and confessions with keen detail and strong melody. Tellingly, underneath all her girlishness -- and Taylor makes no apologies for being girly as she baits mean girls, dreamily thinks of stolen kisses on a sidewalk, or fantasizes about stealing away her ex-lover at the altar -- there’s a steely strength. She walks away proudly from breakups and never dwells on mistakes; she moves forward. The same could be said about the sound of Speak Now itself, which is no great progression from Fearless but rather a subtle shift toward pure pop with the country accents, such as the Dixie Chicks foundation of “Mean,” used as flavoring. But that blend of pop and country, while certainly radio-friendly, is nearly as distinctive to Taylor Swift as her songwriting voice. She may be not a girl, and not yet a woman, but on Speak Now she captures that transition with a personal grace and skill that few singer/songwriters have. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Taylor Swift in the magazine
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