Taylor Swift’s Newest Single, “Red,” Is Her Best Album To-Date

Taylor Swift, who was named the Artist of the Decade by Billboard in 2019, continues to earn accolades and break records, while using her success to advocate for women’s rights, music education, literacy programs and disaster relief. She’s also committed to protecting creative rights and supporting the Time’s Up movement.

The Grammy, VMA and AMA-winning singer’s first full-length album was self-titled in 2006, which critics called a small masterpiece of pop-minded country, wide-eyed and cynical, held together by Swift’s firm, pleading voice. The New York Times noted that she “has a way of describing a relationship as both a fairy tale and a horror story, and a remarkably gifted talent for constructing narratives with multiple points of view.”

Her second album Fearless, in 2008, was even more successful than her debut, with Swift showcasing her facility for characterization in an epic account of a bad date that makes the Fall of Troy look like a bad high school dance. Swift’s third studio album, RED, in 2012, was the first to chart at number 1 in both the US and UK. It was a bold record, incorporating new genres for Swift, including heartland rock and dubstep influences, along with new songwriters and producers, like Max Martin and Shellback. The album was a breakthrough success, and a year later, her RED Tour grossed over $150 million, making it the highest-grossing country tour ever at the time.

A collaboration with American folk duo The Civil Wars on this intimate ballad gives Taylor a chance to show off her vocal range, from her high-pitched vibrato to her whispered falsetto. The result is a gorgeous, haunting track that has the potential to become an anthem for anyone who has experienced a long-term relationship that shattered in a whirlwind.

After the release of the album X, Swift’s next two albums were a mix of both country and pop, and she started collaborating with artists outside her usual circles, like HAIM and Bon Iver. On her ninth studio album, Lover, she collaborated with electronic duo The Weeknd and incorporated folk-influenced production, and also branched out to include guest appearances from artists such as Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. It was a huge hit, with every song from the album charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first week of release.

On her twelfth album, folklore, released on December 10, 2023, she worked with producer and songwriter Jack Antonoff to create a darker, spooky soundscape. It also featured collaborations with HAIM and the National’s Aaron Dessner, and was the first time she’d made a record that leant towards the ethereal. Several of the songs, including lead single willow, explored themes of loss and grief, a departure from the more upbeat sounds of her previous releases.

Unlike many other country superstars, sex doesn’t seem to play a big role in Swift’s image. Maybe it’s because she has a core audience of young straight women, or maybe it’s her own sense of personal integrity. Whatever the reason, it means that this song about waiting for trains that just aren’t coming feels distinctly authentic.