Ruling the Billboard charts for 11 weeks, Taylor Swift’s latest country-pop album, Fearless, enjoyed such phenomenal success that it couldn’t be upstaged even by Beyonce Knowles. This isn’t surprising because the last time any album was that popular was in 1999, and it was Supernatural, the one that garnered Santana 8 Grammy award wins.
The standout track of the album is unquestionably White Horse. Not only has the mid-tempo ballad earned raving reviews for its down-to-earth and earnest vocals, it is on this track that Taylor’s lyrics and tender tones pulls her listener into a heart wrenching imagery of a dreamy fairytale gone horribly wrong. She croons, “I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale / I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet / Lead up her the stairwell / This ain’t hollywood, this is a a small town / I was a dreamer before you went and let me down.”
Other tracks like You’re Not Sorry, Love Story and Hey Stephen showcase her remarkable skill at crafting pop hits and reminding us why we fell in love with her sensational eponymous debut album in this first place. She had her hand in all 13 tracks of Fearless, either co-writing or writing the songs herself.
But that’s also the problem with this album. In an attempt for commercial success and scoring hits on Top 40 radio, Taylor’s songwriting remains amateurish and at the best, acceptable. Sure, the tracks have delivered what her current fan base of young listeners want, but that’s about it. Fearless will not go beyond keeping your feet tapping.
As a songwriter, she has stuck to themes that she was comfortable with and what her fans wanted. When her debut album was released in 2006, it showed us that there are still pop stars with brains. Too bad, her almost flawless work there set unrealistic expectations for this follow-up, which gave us more of the same, only of less quality. If only she had tried to break out of the successful mould with this, we might have forgiven her for her lapses, knowing she was operating outside her comfort zone.
Vocally, she’s nowhere near a country superstar like Carrie Underwood or Shania Twain, with her thin-as-paper voice and her girlish and nasal sounds on most tracks. Perhaps this has served her well on ballads like White Horse and You’re Not Sorry, but certainly not for anthems like Change.
That said, Fearless remains one of the better pop albums of 2009 so far, with its heart-on-the-sleeves vocals, passable songwriting and radio-friendly hooks. Taylor may not have veered too much off her debut album in terms of artistry and lyrical themes, but Fearless is nonetheless a satisfactory offering from this teen superstar.
3. Love Story
4. Hey Stephen
5. White Horse
6. You Belong With Me
8. Tell Me Why
9. You’re Not Sorry
10. The Way I Loved You
11. Forever & Always
12. The Best Day
Urbanwire gives Fearless 3.5/5 stars