8. Fearless (2008)
Fearless already starts to feel more like a country-pop cross over. The country influence is toned down and Swift’s twang has almost disappeared from the vocal delivery. Lyrically, the album sticks to the romantic themes, often employing fantasy such as on title track ‘Fearless’, the Romeo and Juliet inspired ‘Love Story’ and the high-school romance of ‘You Belong With Me’, which plays out like a John Hughes movie. Swift is already connecting with her largely young audience with ‘Fifteen’ being a cautionary love letter to her younger self.
I’ve found time can heal most anything / And you just might find who you’re supposed to be.”‘Fifteen’
Fearless lacks the emotional depth of later releases but there is already evidence of catchy ear-worms and memorable lines on ‘You Belong With Me’: “She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts / She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.”
7. reputation (2017)
reputation was Swift’s attempt to reclaim the narrative that had seen the media portray her as bitter and manipulative following her long running dispute with Kayne West. As a result the album is driven by a dark undertone, snarled lyrics and a heavier R&B soundscape. Swift pulls no punches and previous subtlety is dispensed: “I don’t like your little games / Don’t like your titled stage” is a direct reference to West.
At times it is messy and the delivery occasionally sounds like pastiche. There are memorable moments, with the breathy slow burn and honesty of ‘Delicate’ proving to be another track five highlight.
My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me.”‘Delicate’
There is also hope here, ‘Call It What You Want’ is a beautifully melodic ballad which is possibly the most heartfelt and personal love song she has ever written.