Speak Now

Speak Now

4.5 88
by Taylor Swift
     
 

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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 inspiredSee more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post - Allison Stewart
Taylor Swift's ridiculously entertaining new album, "Speak Now," is a lengthy, captivating exercise in woo-pitching, flame tending and score-settling -- with a heavy emphasis on the latter.
Los Angeles Times - Ann Powers
Swift reminds us that there's another way to hook in listeners. Not surprisingly coming from someone so focused on childhood imagery, it's a trick parents often use with their kids: Use a soft tone. Focus everything inward. Make the one you're addressing feel like you and she are the only ones in the world.... Swift's ability to articulate her vision is growing beautifully.
Blogcritics - Tyrone S. Reid
Hit-laden and chock-full of Swift's usual themes of regret, romance and heartbreak, Speak Now is more delightful country than contemporary pop, while delivering traces of soft rock, bluegrass and acoustic elements. These are creamy, effervescent songs that charm the listener into a state of entertainment. More commonly, though, we are reminded of Swift's capacity for lush and sensitive lyrics steeped in matters of the heart.
Paste Magazine - Liz Stinson
With her every-girl pop songs and 'aw shucks' demeanor, Swift has something far more powerful than any bra-baring glitter-bomb will ever possess: the friend factor.... At its best, her songwriting stands as a shining example of Top 40 music -- full of cinematic build-ups and addictive repeatability.
US Magazine - Ian Drew
Taylor Swift has again achieved the near impossible.... A third bundle of melodic, cathartic country-pop.
Hollywood Reporter - Chris Willman
Entirely self-penned, sans the collaborations of the previous albums, it's an enormous breakthrough in songwriting maturity, while hardly forsaking the childlike lack of pretense that made earlier efforts such guilt-free ear candy.
CNN Entertainment - Leah Greenblatt
Beneath Swift's not-a-girl, not-yet-a-woman sweetness lurks a rigorous and very skillful technique; love may confound her, but the art of expert songcraft clearly doesn't.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/2010
Label:
Big Machine Records
UPC:
0843930003976
catalogNumber:
0300
Rank:
197

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Taylor Swift   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Hand Clapping,Vocal Harmony
Eric Darken   Percussion
Paul Buckmaster   Conductor
Smith Curry   Lap Steel Guitar
Shannon Forrest   Drums
John Gardner   Drums
Rob Hajacos   Fiddle
Tommy Sims   Bass
Chris Carmichael   Strings
Tim Lauer   Piano,Hammond B3
Bryan Sutton   Acoustic Guitar
Caitlin Evanson   Vocal Harmony
Tim Marks   Bass
Amos Heller   Bass
Nathan Chapman   Organ,Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Mandolin,Piano,Electric Guitar,Hand Clapping,fender rhodes,Guitar (12 String Electric),Vocal Harmony
Paul Sidoti   Electric Guitar
Grant Mickelson   Electric Guitar
Mike Meadows   Electric Guitar,Hand Clapping
Nick Buda   Drums
Wilson   Percussion,Hand Clapping
Liz Huett   Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

Paul Buckmaster   Orchestral Arrangements
Steve Churchyard   Engineer
Steve Marcantonio   Engineer
Justin Niebank   Engineer
Brian David Willis   Engineer
Drew Bollman   Engineer
Chris Carmichael   String Arrangements
Jed Hackett   Engineer
Chuck Ainlay   Engineer
Bethany Newman   Illustrations
Todd Tidwell   Engineer
Josh Newman   Illustrations
Lowell Reynolds   Engineer
Chad Carlson   Engineer
Taylor Swift   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes,Art Direction
Nathan Chapman   Programming,Producer,Engineer
Hank Williams   Mastering
Joel Quillen   Engineer
Jeremy Hunter   Engineer

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