Oh, Taylor Swift. Just when we think we’re out, you pull us back in again.
The country singer-songwriter previewed her new song, “Begin Again,” on Good Morning America yesterday as part of her ambitious Red promotional campaign, then premiered the song in full last night. The track marks a smart departure from the slick, radio-friendly pop of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. And whereas that single saw Swift at her most likably bratty, “Begin Again” is sweet but sad, tinged with regret and optimism. It demonstrates to her country fans that she hasn’t transformed into Ke$ha overnight and shows off some deft and increasingly sophisticated songcraft.
Listen to the country stunner after the jump.
Taylor Swift — ”Begin Again”
Swift is often lauded for her songwriting, and deservedly so, but “Begin Again” is a departure, even for her. While her songs frequently tell stories, the narrative style is usually structurally straightforward, then enlivened with little details.
Here, the structure is a little more complex, as Swift compares her previous boyfriend to the new guy she’s beginning to date, counting down her ex’s various failings (he never wanted her to wear high heels, he never wanted her to listen to that song) before reversing the formula to send up her low expectations of the new guy she’s dating. It’s a smart trick that she uses to superb effect.
And as usual, she draws upon specific images to make the story feel very real. ”You said you never met one girl who had as many James Taylor records as you, but I do,” she sings at one point. In the chorus, the line “You throw your head back laughing like a little kid” might be embarrassing in the hands of a lesser artist, but Swift delivers it with just the right mix of surprise and affection.
While it’s tough to align this sound with the vibe of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” it probably won’t matter if Red feels a little schizophrenic — her songwriting is finer than ever.