sorry, but i'm completely in the tank for taylor swift. now if you came at it from a hardass country orientation (anyone still out there?) i suppose one would reject her poppiness. the teenage love lyrics, you know, almost by definition skate close to cliches. but i can hardly imagine a critic really listening to these albums and not coming away impressed. there just is no doubt about their craft in all dimensions. "you belong with me" and "better than revenge" are two perfect pop songs. one sign that you're in the hands of a writer on those numbers: the syllabification: the relation of the melody to the lyrics is absolutely precise. the stuff couldn't scan better if it was written by john fucking milton. but the lyrics also just flow naturally as conversation. that is a very hard thing to do, as you will see if you listen to a bunch of recent country or pop hits. i think perhaps she has been listening to hip hop: she's got mad flow like lil wayne. ok it's a completely different thing, but i think she rolls like an mc. unlike lil wayne, however, she can actually sing: soar, really. but that's where she could make more progress. i'd like to see her cover a few patsy cline numbers or something.i guess the band has to be nashville? nobody can just rock a guitar-and-drums rock number better than the high-end nashville players: it comes across as a live performance with all the players in the same room. i find i can accept a little mandolin lick as signifying "country."