You Belong With Me
en: Fearless (Taylor Swift album) [info]
19-year-old Taylor Swift is something of a phenomenon in America. The story is ever so country: inspired by Faith Hill and Leanne Rimes, a 13-year-old girl persuades her parents to take her to Nashville. She then cunningly records a version of the national anthem, sends it to sporting events and gets to open the 2003 Tennis Open. A year later she's signed to Sony, and the whole family move to Nashville where she's re-signed to indie country label, Big Machine. Her debut album is still in the US album charts two years on, and Fearless is now triple platinum. But will it fare similarly in the UK?
Firstly, is this actually country music? While she cites the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain as influences, she is definitely driving country squarely into pop's rightful parking space, with a couple of mandolins on the roof rack. Every song is polished to a high gleam; you can see your face in the production, and the playing and arrangements cannot be faulted.
But the album's lyrical palette has few colours: Swift deals in the prosaic imagery of high school boys, first dates with cars, and dating someone in the football team. This is swiftly followed by being jealous of cheerleaders, having an unrequited crush on the male friend, being bullied and having the greatest dad in the world who makes everything better. Oh, and wishing on a wishing star. And it's repetitive: She uses the phrase ''Face of an angel'' in Hey Stephen's chorus, only to to recycle it in the opening line of White Horse next.
The populist chord progressions do little to differentiate each song: one might be forgiven for imagining all 16 songs bleeding into one.
In fact, the album is so wholesome it veers into Stepford territory, and so musically conservative it makes Eva Cassidy look like Cruella DeVille. So edgeless it doesn't touch the sides, it's best left to pre-teens as an introduction to pop music. And possibly Republicans.