It's not insignificant that one of Taylor Swift's key influences is Shania Twain; both have a passion for pop that ultimately outranks their crush on country. And just as Twain released a pop-centric version of her album Up!, Swift's Red marks her definitive move to mainstream pop. Among the co-producers and co-writers are Max Martin and Shellback, the Swedes who hit big with everyone from Katy Perry to Britney Spears, and the decidedly pop-focused approach of songs like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and the title track make it clear that Swift has more than Nashville on her mind. The steel guitar swoops and acoustic axes on closing cut "Begin Again" create one of the few overtly country moments here, but Red is really the sound of Swift shifting to pure pop mode.
Jim Allen, Google Play