Billboard CD reviews: Taylor Swift, T-Pain

Fri Nov 7, 2008 9:42pm EST
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NEW YORK (Billboard) - Those who thought Taylor Swift was a big deal after the release of her first record should be prepared: The country singer is about to get way bigger. Though they're written by a teenager, Swift's songs have broad appeal, and therein lies the genius and accessibility of her second effort. The insightful "Fifteen" ("In your life you'll do greater things than dating a boy on the football team") will connect with teens looking for hope and with adult women looking back, while the sparse "White Horse" will appeal to anyone who's experienced love lost, which is to say, everyone. "Hey Stephen" ("All those other girls, they're beautiful but would they write a song for you") displays Swift's confident sense of humor, and "Breathe" (written with Colbie Caillat, who sings on the track) is a love-gone-wrong song suitable for women of all ages.



Most teen Disney heroes have got nothing on David Archuleta. The 17-year-old "American Idol" contender has one of those once-in-a-decade pop voices: A silky tenor with a natural melancholy that makes him a heartbreaker by default. His charming debut exploits that very quality with some strokes of pop genius, like "Touch My Hand," a temporary love ballad to the pretty girl in the front row, and "Your Eyes Don't Lie," a Jonas Brothers-do-"No Diggity" ditty with a fair amount of crooner slink. But Archie is at his best on the bleeders, like piano ballad "To Be With You," and "Angels," the Robbie Williams cover he saved from obscurity on "Idol."



Unless you're an astute T-Pain follower, you may not have realized he hasn't released an album since May 2007. That's because he's been nearly as ubiquitous as Lil Wayne in the guest appearance department since then, adding his Autotuned voice to tracks from Wayne, Ciara and Ludacris, among many others. So what's the difference between T-Pain the guest and T-Pain the featured artist? Not much, but that's OK, thanks to a winning mix of humor and sincerity. "I don't need your sex/I'll masturbate," he sniffs on the Kanye West-featuring "Therapy," while "Chopped & Skrewed" is a comic tale of being hoodwinked by a woman. But there's more substance here than on past albums, particularly on the Eric Clapton-sampling "Change," and T-Pain seems comfortable leaning in a poppier direction on tracks like "Can't Believe It" featuring Wayne.   Continued...

<p>Country music star Taylor Swift arrives for the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>