By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country-pop star Taylor Swift has won over a legion of devoted fans in the past six years with her raw, honest lyrics of romance and heartbreak.
Now, at the grand age of 22, the five-time Grammy winner is says her new record "Red," to be released on Monday, "the most adventurous album I've ever made."
"'Red' is really kind of diary entries of the last two years of my life," Swift told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"There were beginnings and ends and there were ups and downs, and lessons that I learned and then had to learn all over again the exact same way ... the ups and downs of the whole experience of falling in love and being let down and letting go and starting over," she said.
"Red," Swift's follow-up to her 2010 best-seller "Speak Now," sees the singer-songwriter collaborate with the likes of British singer Ed Sheeran and pop music producer Max Martin.
The catchy pop-infused lead single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was an instant hit when it was released in September, becoming Billboard's most-downloaded first week digital single.
And like many of Swift's other songs, it had fans guessing over which of her many brief but high-profile romances she was referring to.
John Mayer? Joe Jonas? Taylor Lautner? Jake Gyllenhaal? Swift isn't telling.
"It helps me to know that 90 percent of what those little blog posts and articles say isn't true at all," said Swift, who is currently dating Conor Kennedy, 18, the son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. "The one bit of privacy that I have is knowing that I know who inspired those songs and I don't tell anyone.
"For me, keeping my private life private and only sharing it with people through my music allows me to have that connection with my fans and not shut them out of anything. But it allows me to also have something that's just mine."
The singer has dealt with her fair share of critics expounding on everything from her music to her personal life. Although she used her Grammy-winning song "Mean" to send them a message, Swift claims she doesn't pay much attention to what people say.
"I don't really read anything so I don't know what's being said, which kind of allows me to make music from a pure place of just making the music that I love, Swift said. "People have been saying I was too pop since my first album so I'm used to that."
Along with music, Swift has become a branding powerhouse, with a line of lucrative sponsorship deals. She was named the highest-earning celebrity under 30 this year by Forbes magazine, which estimated her 2011 earnings to be $57 million.
Despite her superstar status, the singer is keen to keep herself grounded, crediting her friends for providing her with "some semblance of a normal life."
"I got to understanding how much I need my friends and how much I need to call them when I'm not around them ... because it turns out I am the kind of person that needs to run everything by my friends no matter what," Swift said with a laugh.
(Editing by Bill Trott)