I’m a pretty big fan of Taylor Swift’s music as a whole, and I find that each of her albums has something unique to offer, but Red is the album of hers for which I have the strongest appreciation. Recently, I’ve found a new level of love for “State of Grace,” the opening track of the album, and I find that my reasoning for loving that song in particular ends up falling in line with a lot of what I think is so fantastic about Red.
“State of Grace” tells the story of a love that sweeps into your life and changes you, for better or for worse; it’s about something so raw, so intense, that you could never have seen it coming. Swift chains together lyric after lyric that so poetically describes such a romance, showing that it wasn’t perfect, but was powerful nonetheless, particularly with the lines, “So you were never a saint / And I loved in shades of wrong / We learn to live with the pain / Mosaic broken hearts.” Combined with strong vocals, electric guitar, and a consistent drum beat, “State of Grace” is a fast-paced and passionate piece of music that sets the tone for the whole album. Sure, there are scattered ballads, but it’s the passion that “State of Grace” establishes and that Red maintains throughout that makes it what it is. Whether each song looks at it positively or mournfully, Red is about a love powerful enough to bring about either result.
The acoustic version, found as the final track on the deluxe version of the album, merits a specific mention as well. What’s so interesting about it is that through a softening of the vocals as well as the instrumentals—reducing them primarily to a single acoustic guitar—and a slowing of the tempo, you get almost a completely different song. Whereas the studio version is the accompaniment to a passionate, ongoing romance, the acoustic version is a wistful reflection. “I never saw you coming / And I’ll never be the same” shifts from a thrill to a mournful conclusion. Together, they serve as bookends to a romance, and bookends to the album itself.