Red Universal/ Mercury***
She used to be the wunderkind of commercial country music, but now, at 22, Taylor Swift has kicked off her gingham dress and slipped into something less genre-specific.
The naysayers may well regard Swift’s flirtations here – a U2 pastiche, dubstep tweaks, out-and-out pop – and her duets with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody (The Last Time) and Ed Sheeran (Everything Has Changed) as desperate attempts to gain currency with a different audience. Well, maybe, but the material on Red is so assured that the move may well work.
If there’s a whiff of cynicism about Swift’s change in style, in her favour is her knack of penning nifty, insightful pen-portraits about emotions, romance and falling in (and out of) love. Her targets (young men) may come across as emotional simpletons, but Swift’s main audience (young women) know what to expect, and there’s tons of that here. taylorswift.com
Download tracks:22, State of Grace, All Too Well