Here’s the thing about Taylor Swift’s music: It makes me nostalgic for things I’ve never done and never felt. She, and her legion of producers, are geniuses at crystallizing an imagined, shared adolescent past that maybe existed for no one,but that we all yearn for despite, or because of, that fact. Her second album, 2008’s Fearless, was a sappy-sweet paean to fumbly teenage years, ones chock full of crushes and swoony longings and all that gossamer stuff that I’m sure someone, somewhere, experienced to a degree, but did the heart ever ache as sweetly and earnestly as it does in “Fifteen” or did the tale ever seem as star-crossed or fate-kissed as it does on “Love Story” or “You Belong With Me”? That Swift started in country music should come as no surprise. The genre, at its best and at its worst, peddles a fantasy America that is as ideal and wholesome as we’ve always wanted small town America to be, while also nodding to common hardships in a way that is, rather magically, both grounding and elevating.
Just a friendly reminder that Richard Lawson’s review of Red is still canon. I’ll be over here listening to “Fearless,” having a beer, and pre-ordering Lawson’s debut novel. Maybe in February things will be better!