Album Review: Taylor Swift - Speak Now

I've decided to start doing album reviews for fun, since I love music so much. I will also give a rating on how family friendly it is at the end. I have a very eclectic taste, so don't be surprised to see all types of music reviewed. Enjoy! To begin... I bought my very first Taylor Swift album the other day. I have always enjoyed her fun, cute love songs. But this was my first actual purchase. Here is an overview of her newest album, Speak Now, and some highlights from each song.  Taylor Swift, already renown for her amazing songwriting ability, shows up big time; taking the sole writing credit for every song on the 14-track album.

1. Mine - The first single released to the public after it was leaked two weeks early. And, like the majority of her songs, it was written about an actual guy that she met. She said they were just in the "getting to know you" stage, when he put his arm around her "for the first time". In that moment, she saw their entire relationship flash before her eyes... sort of a "what could be" type of situation. This song was birthed out of that. My favorite line? "You learn my secrets and you figure out why I'm guarded. You say we'll never make my parents' mistakes."

2. Sparks Fly - Apparently her oldest song on the album. She wrote this quite a few years ago and sang it at a live show. A copy of that performance was leaked to the public, so dedicated fans were probably anxious to get this studio version. As I looked up the lyrics, I noticed a profound lyric change in several of the verses. One change I appreciate, "You say my name for the first time, baby, and I fall in love in an empty bar" was changed to, "You're the kind of reckless that should send me running, but I kind of know that I won't get far." I'm glad she didn't include the allusion to meeting in a bar. Not romantic. But I think the main point of the song stays the same, "I see sparks fly whenever you smile."

3. Back to December - Taylor's first apology song. And it's very well written. I had to do some research on this one, as I don't really keep up with celebrity relationships. For one, they usually happen and end so fast. But apparently, her and the guy from Twilight (Taylor Lautner) were an item. They broke up last December... and I think the chorus says how Taylor feels about that, "So this is me swallowing my pride, standing in front of you saying I'm sorry for that night, and I go back to December all the time. Turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you, wishing that I realized what I had when you were mine. I'd go back to December, turn around and make it all right. I go back to December all the time."

4. Speak Now - Taylor took on more of a "Colbie Caillat meets Duffy" stylistic approach on this one. I think that's why I like it. This song was written after a friend of hers told her that the guy she loved was marrying someone else. Taylor responded by asking if she was going to, "speak now" as in "speak now or forever hold your peace." This was enough inspiration for Taylor to write a song about what her response would be if this happened to her and also name her entire album off this statement. (Sidenote: Check out my cover here!)

5. Dear John - Mayer. Yep, that's who this song is rumored to be about. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't one of my favorites on the album. If I analyze the lyrics enough however, I start to feel sad... something happened. Lyrics like, "don't you think I was too young to be messed with, the girl in the dress cried the whole way home" allude to a certain situation occurring and it broke Taylor's heart. This song is heartbreaking to me... I look at it as a girl that was taken advantage of by a guy that's played the field and done this before. As she sings painfully, "And you'll add my name to your long list of traitors who don't understand. And I'll look back and regret how I ignored when they said, run as fast as you can." Let this be a testimony to all girls out there, don't ignore the warning. Run from John... or whoever that guy is for you .

6. Mean - This is such an anthem song for Taylor. It's definitely country, including a pretty snazzy banjo. She's singing this to all her haters, "Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things, drunk and rumbling on about how I can't sing. But all you are is mean." Well, that sums up that.

7. The Story of Us - Another song about Taylor Lautner. And no this isn't "Love Story (Part 2)," in fact... it's ironically the opposite. A relationship she thought would work out as a beautiful love story, turns a page for the worst. The whole song, including the driving rhythm of it all, is quite desperate-sounding. I love the bridge, because of how real it is... "This is looking like a contest of who can act like they care less. But I liked it better when you were on my side." How many times have we been in the same room as "the exes," and watch as they talk to everyone but each other, acting like they don't even care that the other person exists. When in reality, that's all that's really on their mind.

8. Never Grow Up - One of the sweetest tracks on the album. An acoustic guitar is featured on the melody throughout as Taylor sings a sweet song to a younger child. I've heard this was written about a younger family member, a cousin maybe. My favorite line brings me back to my own childhood, "You're in the car on the way to the movies and, you're mortified. You're mom's dropping you off, at fourteen there's just so much you can't do. And you can't wait to move out someday and call your own shots. But, don't make her drop you off around the block, remember that she's getting older too. And don't lose the way that you dance around in your PJ's getting ready for school."

9. Enchanted - And here we are folks, my favorite track on the album! Everything from the romantic, airy feeling of the song... to the beautiful lyrics, I love. It's definitely going to be a track that I replay when I am in one of those chick-flick movie moods (sorry Josh!). :) The song was written about an actual encounter Taylor had with a random stranger. They had corresponded a few times via email, and then she met him after a show. She recalls that he's the only person she's ever heard use the word "wonderstruck," so she purposefully put it into the chorus of this song... as a little hint for the person to know how she felt about the night they met. "This night is sparkling, don't you let it go. I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home. I'll spend forever wondering if you knew, I was enchanted to meet you."

10. Better than Revenge - Every time I hear the intro to this song, I giggle. What we have here folks, is a song about revenge. Personally, I don't condone revenge, I leave that to God. In Taylor's case, all she has to do to get revenge on someone is write a hit song. Here it is. "I never saw it coming, wouldn't have suspected it. I underestimated just who I was dealing with. She had to know the pain was beating on me like a drum, she underestimated just who she was stealing from."

11. Innocent - A song for Kanye West. Taylor said that most people expected her to write a song about Kanye, but she felt it important that she write a song to him.  A very endearing song actually, not what I expected to hear at all. She handles this like a pro. Speaking understanding words to Kanye, "Wasn't it easier in your lunchbox days? Always a bigger bed to crawl into. Wasn't it beautiful when you believed in everything? And everybody believed in you?" Reminding him of his childhood and reminding us of his humanity.

12. Haunted - Oh hello, Evanescence. I thought I was listening to Taylor Swift's new album? Whoa. We are not in Kansas anymore, and this is not country music. But, I like it. Taylor takes on a new vibe as she sings words about missing someone in her life. Basically, she repeats over and over, "Come on, come on don't leave me like this. I thought I had you figured out. Can't breathe whenever you're gone, I can't go back, I'm haunted." If you're not typically a Taylor Swift fan, give it a listen, you just might like it.

13. Last Kiss - At 6:08, this song is not one to turn on in the car when you're going for a short drive to the grocery store. You may need to add tissues to the grocery list if that's the case. It's a sad, goodbye-wish-you-were-still-here ballad.

14. Long Live - The last song on the album is a sort of farewell to the days of youthfulness. I won't be surprised if this song is played at many graduation ceremonies come May. Even though, I suspect it was written as another love song about Taylor Lautner. :) "Long live all the mountains we moved, I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you. I was screaming, long live the look on your face and bring on all the pretenders, one day we will be remembered."

Family Friendly Rating: 4. There are definitely a few suggestive and mature elements dealt with in this album. Subjects that should be addressed by parents - including kissing, dating, marriage and break-ups. Overall, I would suggest this album to those over the age of 13.

(1 - very friendly; 10 - mature)