Country sensation Taylor Swift returns with her third studio effort Speak Now and there are no real surprises to be found on the 14-track Collection. And that could be a good thing considering how well she's done with her established formula.
Swift's songwriting ability continues to grow by leaps and bounds in terms of maturity and musical complexity with the help of Mentor/Producer Nathan Chapman, who has guided much of the 20 year-old Superstar's career. Overall, the tracks go deeper and this results in longer tracks which get caught in moments like Dear John, rumoured to have been inspired by a failed relationship with John Mayer, some years her senior. Although there are no instantly accessible smashes on the set like 2008's Love Story or 2009's You Belong With Me, there are some gems like big-chorused Enchanted, Back to December (both tracks punctuated with Strings) and album closer Long Live.
Recurring themes in Swift's music are her habit of transferring blame on her ex-Boyfriends, which proves entertaining as it gives her songs that reading-out-of-a-Diary charm. Never Grow Up encourages the young the enjoy the simplicity of their youth, while she reflects also upon the sad realities and disappointments of Adulthood. The track musically takes a cue from The Best Day off of her sophomore effort. The Story of Us with its Pop Rock leanings, rides off the success of her singles' Pop Versions and actually is radio-ready. Mean strikes back gently at her bitter Detractors who criticize things like her singing ability, for example. She couldn't possibly be referencing a certain Rapper who is just coming out of hiding, now could she?