Album Review: Taylor Swift, “Fearless” (2008)

I have admittedly stayed far, far away from the Taylor Swift hype machine. When the 20-year-old country singer first debuted in 2006, I listen to her song, “Teardrops on My Guitar” and wasn’t too impressed. I do enjoy some country music, but not watered-down country, as I automatically categorized Swift’s music as being.

By 2008, Swift had taken off as a country-music darling. Her second album, Fearless, became a world-wide hit, her songs were played incessantly on EVERY radio station, and she was nominated for numerous music awards.

As I said, I stayed far away from her music. Not because I didn’t like it- I could never listen to “Love Story” without singing along- but because I figured Swift to be yet another over-hyped artist. I lumped her up with the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus without giving her a fair chance. I finally gave in and decided to listen to Fearless and I was…well…pleasantly surprised. Besides, how can I argue with an album that won a Grammy for Album Of The Year?

For the most part, Fearless is a collection of ballads about love and heartbreak, told from the perspective of a young girl, as Swift was 18 when she co-wrote most of the songs. I actually really appreciate this fact; that Swift doesn’t try too hard be “older” or “wiser” than her age, or her audience, for that matter (which is mostly fellow teenage girls.)

The first of many ballads is “Untouchable,” which really highlights Swift’s voice. It should be said that her vocals aren’t anything amazing, really- she’s got a pretty voice, and a nice, smooth tone, but she wouldn’t beat out Alicia Keys in a vocal match. All that aside, her voice is pretty and pleasant to listen to.

Everyone is likely familiar with the singles from the album, especially “You Belong With Me.” The track was the first single from the disc, and boasts an incredibly catchy tune and lyrics you can’t help singing along with (“If you could see that I’m the one who understands you/Been here all along so why can’t you see?/You belong with me”). “Love Story” is equally catchy (don’t tell me you’ve never sang “It’s a love story, baby, just say, ‘yes!’ while listening to the radio), and tells a classic Romeo & Juliet story. Meanwhile, the fourth and final single from the album, “Fifteen” comes in the form of a ballad, in which Swift sings, “When you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe it.” I definitely wasn’t dating when I was fifteen, but I can see this being pretty true.

TaylorSwift 080208 photoby Adam-Bielawski

There rest of the album is pretty much composed of songs about heartbreak as well. “You’re Not Sorry” reminds me of a song from Jessica Simpson’s country album, but I’m sure this track is better. The slow-paced melody and Swift’s mournful delivery are perfect; heartbreak is rough when you’re 17, ya’ll.

“I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale,” Swift sings in another sad ballad, “White Horse.” The lyrics are most interesting in this song, as Swift draws parallels to the classic fairytale story of a Prince riding up on a white horse and her flawed reality. I love the line I quoted in particular, but the whole song is a strong offering.

The same can be said for “Come in With the Rain”, another lovely mid-tempo ballad. Swift’s vocals are clear and soaring as she sings lines like, “I’ll keep my window open, ’cause I’m too tired to call your name. Just know I’m right here hoping you’ll come in with the rain.” Pure pop ballad perfection.

The rest of Swift’s album is likeable, but nothing too remarkable. A few more ballads are thrown in amongst a handful of airy country/pop songs, but, as a whole, Fearless is quite a good album. I was surprised to actually enjoy more than a few songs on the disc, and I have to hand it to Taylor Swift– her songs and lyrics are really quite charming, which makes her almost irresistible.
Rating: 1000px-3.5_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Fearless
2. Fifteen
3. Love Story
4. Hey Stephen
5. White Horse
6. You Belong With Me
7. Breathe
8. Tell Me Why
9. You’re Not Sorry
10. The Way I Loved You
11. Forever & Always
12. The Best Day
13. Change

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xg3vE8Ie_E]
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