Review: Taylor Swift, 1989

October 27, 2014 12:11 PM

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When Dolly Parton first reached a mainstream audience back in 1977, she made a point to soothe the nerves of longtime fans and Nashville’s record industry. “I’m not leaving country,” she famously vowed with a scarlet smirk, “I’m just taking it with me.” Taylor Swift opens her fifth album 1989 with a contrary pledge, to leave her successful past in a Tennessee junkyard. “Welcome to New York” is, on the surface, a paean to her recently adopted home. But as is her wont, the song also plays as a meta-statement about Swift’s life choices, both artistic and personal. “Everybody here was someone else before,” she sings without a whiff of regret. Lest anyone misunderstand the point, Swift follows with 1989’s fundamental credo. “It’s a new soundtrack,” she warns, while lost in whirling sonic euphoria. And then, a crucial addendum: “I can dance to this beat…forevermore!” The times have a-changed, y’all.

Taylor Swift’s vast and diverse fanbase has long anticipated the prospect of a Total Pop Reinvention, either with nagging gloom or escalating delight. For those who still regard Taylor Swift and Fearless as her purest works to date, the other shoe has dropped at last. And it lands with a pulsing syn...

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