Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” is a return to form

Out of the woods, Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ heralds the return of a pop-music mastermind in 2019.

The past few years have been a little bit like the story of two musicals. On one side, you had Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” and its follow-up, “1989,” which both came out earlier this year. On the other, you had her long-awaited and well-executed music video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” which premiered in 2017.

“Reputation” was a sprawling, big-budget film and album, while “Look What You Made Me Do” was a much more intimate, intimate film, which was the point when we really began to see an evolution in the way Swift would be making the music she would make. That evolution started with “Like a Prayer,” which arrived in 2017, and continued through 2018, when Swift released an 11-song “1989.”

Now, 2019 has just begun, and the first album Swift has released since “like a prayer,” an 11-song album titled “Midnights,” has already become a pop-music instant classic.

“Midnights” is a return to form for Swift, who is making music more akin to her first album, “1989,” than the “look what you made me do” video.

The album’s 12 songs are all instrumentals, with only a few of them being entirely written by Swift. The album’s centerpiece, the opening track “Bobby Jean,” is a slow, slow ballad set to a sparse orchestral arrangement and a minimalist string arrangement that swirls, swirls, swirls. “Bobby Jean” is an absolutely stunning piece that is both beautiful and mysterious.

A few songs later, Swift turns her attention to piano and then flute in “Don’t Blame Me,” where the album’s centerpiece “Don’t Blame Me (For Saving Christmas)” becomes a ballad of a different sort. “Don’t Blame Me (For Saving Christmas)” is reminiscent of “Look What You Made Me Do

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