Read our track by track preview, including lyrics
Last week 4music.com was invited to Universal Records for a sneak preview of the brand new Taylor Swift album, Red, released on 22 October.
Although the LP is released in just a few days time, details have been sketchy (and top secret) as to what fans can expect from it. Now though, let us present you with EVERYTHING you need to know about Red, including some of our favourite lyrics.
1. State Of Grace
A mature start to the album, as Taylor's tender vocals ring out against a pounding drum beat and brash guitar riff. This is an epic-sounding country rock number, tackled with sophistication and honesty, miles apart from the catchy yet ever-so-slightly bubblegum pop of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
Favourite lyric: "Love is a ruthless game unless you play it good and right"
If you liked Love Story - Taylor's debut single back in 2008 - then you will definitely be a fan of Red. This is typical Taylor country pop, blending strings and guitar to create a catchy mainstream ditty which will be stuck in your head forever and ever. You know when you realize you have found 'the one' and are totally and utterly head-over-heels in love? Well that's what this song is all about. If "losing him is blue" then "loving him is red". Aw, bless. Now where can we find our soulmate?
Favourite lyric: "Touching him is like realising everything you wanted was right there in front of you"
Now this is lovely. Track three on the album takes on a more gentle vibe, as Taylor slows things down to explore her fragile side. She's found someone to love, but deep down knows the relationship may not work. Love is indeed a risky game. We like this a lot. It's soft, mellow, honest and (we'll say it again) lovely.
Favourite lyric: "This love is treacherous, I like it"
4. I Knew You Were Trouble
Oh yes, now the album has really kicked in. This is all getting very interesting. We've had mature country pop, we've had a gentle country ballad, now it's time for a bit of dubstep. Seriously. This epic genre-crossing tune directs hate at a boyfriend, as Taylor moves from initially plinky-plonky Katy Perry pop to something much harder and daring for the chorus. This has to be a future single release. If this isn't a single, we give up.
Favourite lyric: "I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me"
5. All Too Well
Track five presents us with a slice of mid-tempo melancholy, with beats and guitars that wouldn't sound amiss on a Snow Patrol album. Taylor's reflecting on a past relationship and the shared memories that live on despite a breakup.
Favourite lyric: "Here we are again dancing round the kitchen in the refrigerator light"
Second favourite lyric: "I left my scarf there at your sister's house"
And we're back with the upbeat stuff. With a catchy guitar riff similar to that in Sweet Home Alabama, this is a feel-good song discussing youthful partying and living for the moment. We will again arrive at a Katy Perry comparison - you know how she often sings about Friday nights and house parties galore? Well that's kind of what this track is going for. The only difference is that here it doesn't feel as manufactured or cheesy. Well done, Taylor. Nice party song, and we love the girly chanting lines too.
Favourite lyric: "It feels like the perfect night to eat breakfast at midnight, to fall in love with strangers"
7. I Almost Do
Mellow, reflective, ballad, serious. She's in love, but is trying very hard not to be.
Favourite lyric: "It takes everything in me not to call you"
8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
If you've not heard this song already, you need to come out from living in your cave. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
Favourite lyric: "So he calls me up and he's like, 'I still love you,' and I'm like 'I just... I mean this is exhausting'"
9. Stay Stay Stay
Well this is slightly different. We've got some kind of country-meets-Eastern European vibe going down here. Folky guitar, banging drums, refreshing song. Taylor may have a few arguments with her man, but she wants them to "stay stay stay together".
Favourite lyric: "I threw my phone across the room at you"
10. The Last Time
Dramatic piano chords grab our attention here, creating a serious (and slightly spooky) atmosphere. This is pure drama in song form. Amazing. But wait - who is this singing? It's not Taylor Swift, it's Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol singing the first verse. Taylor joins him on the chorus, before leading the second verse. There's a persistent drum beat, tight harmonies and some haunting strings thrown in too. Really good stuff.
Favourite lyric: "This is the last time I let you in my door"
11. Holy Ground
Fast-paced vocals, a hard rock and roll drum loop, and blasts of 80s-inspired synth give this track a real retro quality. The song is a celebration of memories. Once again, Taylor is maturely looking back at a relationship and getting all reflective and sentimental. She's old beyond her years, very clever.
Favourite lyric: "Tonight I'm gonna dance for all that we've been through"
12. Sad Beautiful Tragic
With no major drum beat or heavy guitar present, this is a soft and simple track. Taylor's voice sounds beautiful on this haunting and emotional little ditty. It's a tragic reflection of a past relationship.
Favourite lyric: "We both wake in lonely beds in different cities"
13. The Lucky One
This is a curious song. We like it, we're just not entirely sure what she's talking about. The drums return for this mid-tempo pop song, which seems to be discussing the downsides of fame. It's seemingly the story of a girl who has endless fame and fortune but still isn't happy. We know Britney got there first with her track Lucky, but think of this as a slightly less cheesy version. Slightly. The question is, who is the girl Taylor is singing about? Is it herself? We hope not, because we don't want her giving up anytime soon.
Favourite lyric: "Your secrets end up splashed on the news front page"
14. Everything Has Changed
We've got another male on board here, and this time it's Ed Sheeran. The pair sing about finding a "new found grace" and falling in love during those early first stages of a new relationship. It's quite simple during the verses (mainly with just a guitar for backing track) but it builds to a fairly anthemic chorus. We don't want to compare this song to the previous duet on the album, but we will... This is alright, but the other one is much better. Slight anticlimax here for us. Sorry, Ed.
Favourite lyric: "All I feel in my stomach is butterflies"
Electric guitar, rousing drums and talk of endless possibility make up the penultimate track of the album. If you imagine being in a teen movie on prom night, this is the song that would be playing just as you arrived at school, all glamorous and beautiful, ready to party. The song is all about being caught in a euphoric moment. It's upbeat, fun, positive and dare we say it (yes, we'll say it) inspirational. Anything is possible.
Favourite lyric: "I'm the barbie on the boardwalk"
16. Begin Again
The album draws to a soft and soulful close with Begin Again. Love is great, yes, but love can also hurt and love can also end. It's a good choice for the final track of the album, because it pretty much encapsulates all the emotion and all the themes of the previous 15 tracks. The mature way in which Taylor analyses a relationship and reflects on true love, anyone would think she was 65-years-old. Passionate and honest mid-tempo pop with a strong country twang. Lovely.
Favourite lyric: "Took a deep breath in the mirror, you didn't like it when I wore high heels, but I do"
So, in summary, we are definitely impressed by this mature offering. Do not expect 16 raucous pop tracks, like lead single We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, because the album actually has a lot more depth and credibility. Yes, there's some sickly sweet moments and yes, there's some rock-out girly pop, but prepare for a large serving of soul and tenderness alongside a huge dollop of talent. It's not all country, it's not all pop, and that's what makes this album so appealing. You just cannot pin Taylor down to a specific genre, making the album one incredibly varied and enjoyable listen.
Are you going to be buying Red? Let us know which tracks you are excited about in the comments below.