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Taylor Swift

Speak Now (Universal)

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For all the brouhaha about the subjects of Taylor Swift’s new album---John Mayer! Joe Jonas (still)! Kanye West!---not enough has been made of what a spectacular package of pop hooks Speak Now is. The first single, “Mine,” is a classic Swift love story, so catchy you may miss the deftness of a line like “You fell in love with a careless man’s careful daughter.” “Dear John,” the Mayer song, is a huge gamble for someone in the singles game; it’s slow as hell and nearly seven minutes long, swelling with guitar and strings, eliminating the fame elements so it’s like you were there when “the girl in the dress cried the whole way home.” It’s no accident that Swift calls back to her country roots on the LP’s only twanger, “Mean,” addressing her critics---the ones who wish she hadn’t crossed over, the ones “who say that I can’t sing.” Whatever studio help Swift may need, it’s beautifully deployed on Speak Now, whose last line is “We will be remembered,” and we must remember this girl has barely gotten started.

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