“Deep cut” isn’t a phrase most people associate with Taylor Swift — her impact is just about everywhere at all times when it comes to pop music. But real Swifties know that her albums are packed with gems that highlight her songwriting and musicianship, including some gems that often go unnoticed.
2017’s Reputation has been her most controversial album to date, for reasons that include her sonic risks and her general snake-heavy promotional imagery. In the context of that LP, “New Year’s Day” feels like it’s from her past. It seems almost outrageous to feel shocked by the placement of a piano ballad on a Swift album, but Reputation was that kind of album. Its big, dark synth chords made the almost naked softness of this ballad feel like a surprise.
As 2018 comes to a close and another New Year’s Day comes up, revisiting this underrated moment of balladry from Swift is a must. This is a pop giant doing the most with very little: The song is mostly just her voice and the delicate piano riff, with some harmonies and light guitar making the chorus feel warm and full. It’s a hot tea for the hangover that followed Reputation — and, now, 2018.