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|Taylor Swift releases her 'Fearless' new album|
|08-11-2008 10:36 | 0 comment(s)|
| Teen singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, whose debut album became one of the biggest hits out of Nashville in recent years, selling more than 3 million copies before Swift had turned 18. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times / September 6, 2008)
Taylor Swift doesn't bat a blue eye at rewriting history.
Take the 18-year-old's latest single, "Love Story." It's all about romance and destiny - two subjects that often occupy her teenage brain. She even invokes the names of the world's most celebrated star-crossed lovers in this sunny hit that's steadily climbing the country singles chart.
It's Romeo and Juliet with a significant difference: Nobody dies.
"I was going through a situation like that where I could relate," the energetic singer-songwriter said recently on a visit to Los Angeles. "I used to be in high school where you see [a boyfriend] every day. Then I was in a situation where it wasn't so easy for me, and I wrote this song because I could relate to the whole Romeo and Juliet thing. I was really inspired by that story.
"Except for the ending," she quickly added.
Whether it's Shakespeare, dating or a disintegrating music business, Swift is only too willing to reshape the rules according to her own ideas about how things ought to be. She's demonstrated that repeatedly since she was a brazen 12-year-old who went door to door down Nashville's famed Music Row of record company offices saying, "Hi, I'm Taylor! I write songs, and I think you should sign me."
When most of her peers were busy with after-school sports or drama club, she would head off every day to her job at Sony/ATV Music Publishing where, at 14, she was hired to write more songs, as a professional in the country music capital.
A 'Fearless' follow-up
Now, after selling more than 3 million copies of her 2006 debut album, "Taylor Swift," the tall and perky blonde with the thick, curly tresses is gearing up for another onslaught of activity with the impending arrival of her sophomore album, "Fearless," due out Nov. 11. Although it's poised to be one of the big-gun releases of the holiday season, that doesn't intimidate Swift or her record company one iota.
"I think any time you've had this kind of success, it starts to get weighty," said Scott Borchetta, president of Big Machine Records, who signed Swift even before his label was fully up and running. "But she's delivered a brilliant record.
"We're all keenly aware of what's going on in the economy," Borchetta said. "So the conversation really centers on the reality that the new album will do whatever the market will bear."
But let's rewind to the beginning. Swift was a high school sophomore when her self-titled debut was released, and before long, she had exchanged public school for home schooling so she could keep up with the mushrooming demands on her time. She scored new artist honors from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music and watched wide-eyed last December when her name was called among the nominees for the best new artist Grammy Award, a prize she ultimately lost to a much darker talent, Amy Winehouse.
Perhaps "Fearless" will change things. Her imagination takes her to a number of places on the new album. On "You're Not Sorry," she begins to see that the apologies she's hearing from a wayward boyfriend are really those of a first-class liar. "White Horse" addresses the sobering realization that romantic fantasy doesn't always pan out ("I'm not your princess/This ain't no fairy tale") and "You Belong With Me" is the old story of someone who thinks she's the true love of a boy who's involved with someone else ("She doesn't get your sense of humor like I do/She'll never know your story like I do"). The endearing "Fifteen" rolls out a bit of advice to an incoming high school freshman.
Among the most touching new songs is "The Best Day," a love letter to her mother, with shout-outs to her father, Scott, and younger brother, Austin. (Andrea Swift usually accompanies her daughter while she's on tour.)
As a whole, "Fearless" represents a major advance in her confidence and acumen as a songwriter and evinces complete faith in her conversational vocal style, one that positions her as the celebrity teen that other girls would most like to hang out with and the one most boys would want to ask to the prom.
Not surprisingly, Swift is a master multitasker. While previewing the album for a reporter, she simultaneously took part in a telephone conference with members of Def Leppard, the British hard rock band with which she recently taped an installment of CMT's " Crossroads" series, slated to premiere Friday. ("My mom literally listened to them when she was pregnant with me," she said, "and then raised me on Def Leppard music.")
Just as one of her new songs would end, she would race in from the other room, cell phone still glued to her ear, grab her iPod, scroll to the next song she wanted to show off, punch it up, then fly back into the adjoining room, without dropping a beat of her chat with the Leppard guys.
She's in her now-signature look: a sundress and cowgirl boots, her wrists ringed with bracelets made and sent to her by various fans. Her fashion sense is translating into a line of inexpensive sundresses that'll be sold at Wal-Mart stores. "I always thought if I ever were to do a fashion line, I wouldn't want to do [clothes] that girls like me and girls my age couldn't afford," she said.
It's one more expression of Swift's powerful Everygirl connection with her audience, which she's strengthened with practically a daily presence on her MySpace page.
"Blogging has been really fun because I like to let people into my life as much as possible. Obviously," she said, bursting into laughter. "I think it's important for the people who keep you going and support you and have your back out there in the world to know that you're thinking of them all the time."
WHEN&WHERE Taylor Swift releases her new album, "Fearless" (Big Machine), Nov. 11. Swift is also up for female vocalist of the year at this year's CMA Awards and will perform live on the show, which airs Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. on ABC/7. "CMT Crossroads: Def Leppard and Taylor Swift" airs Friday at 9 p.m. on CMT.
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