Speak Now

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Release Date

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Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

Album Review

It’s a notoriously subjective thing to argue that any artist is “the biggest in the world.” Even so, a sturdy case could be made that 20-year-old Taylor Swift is exactly that. The sweet country everygirl’s first two albums have together sold 13 million copies around the globe since her 2006 debut. And her third, Speak Now, blasted to the top of the charts by selling more than 1 million copies its first week of release, making her only the second country artist—and the first female in that genre—ever to accomplish that feat.

Swift’s appeal (especially among young, female fans) lies in her willingness to serve up earnest, confessional morsels paired with infectiously melodic hooks that blur the boundaries between country, pop and rock. And with this batch of 14 tunes, Taylor tells us in the liner notes that she’s using them to deliver personal messages (mostly to celebrity ex-boyfriends) that she didn’t get right the first time. “These songs are made up of words I didn’t say when the moment was right in front of me,” she writes. “These songs are open letters. Each is written with a specific person in mind.”

The result? Taylor’s tracks on Speak Now often feel like sneaking a peak at a teen’s tear-streaked diary … or maybe cathartic e-mails she never sent. Except, of course, that Swift is now 20. This means Swift is smack in the middle of her transition from teen phenom to young adult artist. And that’s a path littered with the shredded innocence of myriad starlets. How will Taylor Swift navigate this historically perilous transition? Like this:

Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

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