[More after the jump...]
“State of Grace” is a full-on rock song with U2-like big, propulsive drums and an spiky Edge-like guitar. The overall, dense, echo-y feel also recalls the Cranberries.
So if you’re keeping score, of the five songs previewed, only “Begin Again” really fits country radio —and that’s even accounting for how pop country radio now leans. Yes, I’m aware that she just had the No. 1 and 2 songs on the Billboard Country Songs chart but that is because of a change in methodology made two weeks ago that now incorporates digital sales and streaming, as well as airplay (which previously was the sole determiner of chart position on that chart). “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Red,” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” are all pop and/or rock leaning. We’re hearing the rest of the album on Friday and will file a review on Monday.
But back to “State of Grace,” which Swift wrote by herself. It is, by leaps and bounds, the best song so far from “Red.” Swift’s singing sounds strong, but she also is often lower in the mix at parts, especially on the chorus. Often, and this has rarely happened on a Swift track, the music overshadows her lyrics and her vocals completely blend in with the other instrumentation to create a galloping, immersive round of sound that is compelling and rich.
She’s front and center as the song, about the wars we wage in love, draws to a close: “This is a state of grace/this is the worthwhile fight/love is a ruthless game/unless you play it good and right.”
Taylor aimed for pure pop on “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” adult contemporary/country with “Begin Again,” and even flirted with dubstep on “I Knew You Were Trouble.” This is a sweeping rock ode. It’s clear, even without hearing the rest of the album, that Swift is spreading her wings and bringing in all her myriad influences.