Taylor Swift – “Mine”
In October, just two months before her 21st birthday, Swift will release Speak Now, her third album and first since her sweep at this year’s Grammy Awards.
After that high-profile milestone, she’s no longer been seen as invincible to the general public. Her light, airy singing voice was placed under a microscope after a series of off-key performances, including her duet with legend Stevie Nicks on that show. Though she doesn’t possess the pure vocal talent of country’s other A-list ladies, her voice will work for her style, if only she learns how to tame it.
Despite any criticisms leveled against her, Swift’s image, all brightness and beauty, is irresistible to fans who remain ardently optimistic about the power of love. Her heart’s conflicts, conveniently some would say, rarely last longer than four minutes.
It’s all part of her charm. She’s a resilient young woman who doesn’t waste time on tragedy. In that same vein, “Mine” is a mishmash of ideas bolted together by a terrific power-pop chorus that will stick in your brain after the second or third listen. Producer Nathan Chapman is behind the boards again, and his soaring, standard-issue arrangement sounds like an outtake from a Keith Urban album.
The first few moments of “Mine”—with a couple sweetly-sung “Oh, oh’s”—could be confused with the beginning of a Hannah Montana theme song. In her quavering and quite innocent tone, Swift sets the scene: “You were in college working part time waiting tables,” she remembers in the opening line. With a tangy mix of vulnerability and youthful arrogance, she often comes across as the musical offspring of Bangles leader Susanna Hoff.
On “Mine,” Swift edges ever so slowly towards a more mature perspective. This three-act story referencing “bills to pay” and “parents’ mistakes” as obstacles to budding romance. When she arrives at the single most significant line–“You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter“–you’re expecting a big payoff.
That she doesn’t deliver is further proof that her songwriting skills are still raw, still needing that one last polish in order to shine. Who was this careless man and what’s he done to his daughter? That mystery remains unresolved.
As usual, Swift is convincingly dramatic as she sings about the breakups and the make-ups of her young life. Better songs would be just the thing to bring her to a new peak.
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