Category Archives: Review

A Dad’s Album Review: Taylor Swift’s Reputation

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that my daughters (and me) are big Taylor Swift fans.  We’ve seen her in concert several times and one of my favorite “Dad” moments was getting a picture of Taylor, my daughters, and me.

I reviewed her 1989 album from a Dad’s perspective so I knew I wanted to use the same lens to tackle her Reputation album.

Of course, my daughters were excited about the album.  They had me waiting outside the Target nearest my office on release day to get both Target exclusive editions.

With two copies of Taylor Swift’s Reputation album in our house… I was able to snag one to listen to and review.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite sure of what to make of the album after hearing it the first time. I bordered on wanting to like it and thinking I should like it just because my daughters were in love with it.

The thing is… the more I listened to it… the more I began to love it.  It’s kind of like a pair of shoes that at first, you regret buying, but then becomes your favorite pair.

After several listens to this album I felt like every song is both “fresh” and “new” but also has a familiar feel.  Several times I caught myself trying to figure out what a particular part of a song reminded me of only to come up short.  Like I said… it’s familiar… but it’s new!

Taylor Swift’s Reputation album is definitely not country.  It’s a mixture of dance, electronica, hip-hop, and pop.  It’s the most mature album she’s done… which makes sense.  Taylor isn’t a child star anymore.  She’s a woman and sings about grown-up themes; love, loss, lust, hurt, betrayal, confusion, clarity, and personal awareness.

Even though there are adult topics covered on the album, Tayor writes her lyrics in such a way that I feel are “safe” for all ages.  There’s an “S bomb” and a “damn” in the album but that’s about it for lyrics that some parents might find questionable

It’s obvious that this is Taylor’s most personal album yet… and I think that’s probably why her biggest fans (like my daughters) will say that Reputation is their favorite Taylor Swift album to date.

Of the 15 songs on the album… here are a few of my favorites:

Are You Ready For It –  The album kicks off with a bang.  The beat, effects, and production of this song rock.

Look What You Made Me Do – The only thing more fun than this song is its’ video.  I love how Taylor was able to make fun of herself (and her critics) at the end.

Gorgeous – The thing I noticed first about this song and what I love the most is the use of the triangle in it. It’s a simple instrument addition to a very slickly produced track

Dress – A co-worker described this song as “sexy and seductive”.  She was right.  That describes this song perfectly.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things – I included this one because it’s one of my oldest’s favorites on the album.

New Year’s Day – This is my favorite song on the album.  It’s the most stripped down, simple song of the 15 tracks and is the perfect way to close out the album.  Even though she declared that “the old Taylor is dead” in Look What You Made Me Do… it’s obvious to me in this song that the old Taylor might not be dead… but just in a coma.

Have you heard Taylor Swift’s Reputation album? What are your thoughts? What are your favorite songs on it?

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Review: The Color Purple The Musical At Des Moines Performing Arts

The Color Purple The Musical, the second show in the 2017-18 Willis Broadway Series at the Des Moines Civic Center, is one I didn’t know much about before attending the October 31, 2017, opening night performance with my wife.

Neither of us had read the Pulitzer Prize-winning book or seen the movie so we went to the show not knowing what to expect.

What we saw was the story of two sisters in the American South… their struggles, setbacks, and triumphs over the course of several decades.

What we heard was an amazing musical score that spanned many genres including blues, gospel, jazz, and ragtime.  I can’t say enough about the musical performances.  Each of the actors by themselves had a powerful voice.  Put them all together and it really was something special to hear.

The acting was just as powerful.  I consider any performance that stirs some emotion in me to be a good one.  This show and performance made me feel anger, empathy, and joy all in 2 hours.

Other recent Des Moines Performing Arts shows have had elaborate sets, slick set changes, and technology to enhance the theatrical experience.

The Color Purple The Musical is different.  The set is as minimal as it gets; a multi-tiered wood floor and a high wood backdrop adorned with wooden chairs.  Some of the chairs came off the wall to move around the stage creating different spaces.

The minimalist approach to set design really worked with the show allowing the acting and vocal performances to shine.

My wife and I both really enjoyed this show… but wished we would’ve had some experience with the book or movie beforehand.  It would’ve made following the storyline a little easier.

If you enjoyed The Color Purple the movie or The Color Purple the book you’ll really enjoy this show.  If you don’t know anything about the story, like my wife and I, I’d recommend a quick Google search to familiarize yourself with the story before attending.

The Color Purple The Musical is running through Sunday, November 5, 2017.  Click here to learn more about Des Moines Performing Arts, this show, and to get tickets.

***Disclaimer – I was provided with free press night tickets.  All opinions are my own.

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Review: Something Rotten! At Des Moines Performing Arts

Don’t let the title Something Rotten! fool you.  This touring Broadway musical makes for an extremely funny theatrical experience.

It’s anything but rotten… and is a great way for the Des Moines Civic Center to kick off the 2017-18 Willis Broadway Series.  My wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited to opening night, Tuesday, October 17, 2017.Something Rotten! is set in the 1590’s.  No, that’s not a typo. It really does take place in the 1590’s.  A time when William Shakespeare was “rock star” famous… and two aspiring playwright brothers wanted a little piece of that fame.

They set out to make a name for themselves by creating the very first theatrical production to combine song and dance with acting. That’s right, they were attempting to make the world’s first musical.

Something Rotten! is brilliantly written and laugh out loud funny.  I honestly can’t remember the last time my wife and I laughed so hard. We weren’t alone either.

The nearly sold out, opening night audience was laughing right along with us and was quick to reward the cast with a  standing ovation during the curtain call at the end of the night.If you’ve never been to a musical before and don’t really know much about Shakespeare you’ll enjoy this show.  On the other hand, if you’re a fan of musical theatre and have a general knowledge of Shakespeare you will absolutely love this show.

There are so many jokes, musical riffs, and borrowed lines from popular musicals that hardly a moment goes by without a laugh.  In fact, I’d really like to see this show again sometime because I’m sure there are some that I missed.

The talented singing and dancing was an equal match to the comedy.  This show is loaded with lots of great music and the actors performed it all flawlessly, all while in most cases dancing too. If you’re a fan of tap dancing, like I am, there’s a scene that you will really enjoy!

There are a few swear words sprinkled in but they are well timed comedically and aren’t over the top.  A lot of the humor is innuendo-based so younger theatre-goers might not get it all.

While there’s nothing inappropriate I’d say this show is best suited for middle school aged kids and older.

If you’re looking for a two-hour diversion from the world… one that will have you laughing and leaving with a smile on your face… Something Rotten! is the show for you!

Something Rotten! runs through Sunday, October 15th and the Des Moines Civic Center. You can learn more about the show and get tickets on the Des Moines Performing Arts website.

***Disclaimer – I was provided with free press night tickets.  All opinions are my own.

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