Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Grady Smith
November 01, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Taylor Swift may have gone pop on her new album Red, but she’s still welcome in Nashville, judging by the huge applause she earned at the end of her CMA Awards performance of her new country single, “Begin Again.”

Swift’s performance mirrored the song’s new music video, which is set inside a Parisian café. An accordion player set the French mood as couples sipped lattes at tables behind him. Then Swift entered wearing… a red dress. (I’d poke fun at her insistence on constantly wearing clothes that name check her new album, but who am I to knock it? She clearly knows what she’s doing.)

Tonight, Swift delivered a sensitive, breathy vocal that sounded quite nice — or at least way better than she often sounds belting the high notes of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” She has a smaller voice than, say, Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert. But when it’s set in the right place, as it is on “Begin Again,” I find Swift’s tone gently evocative and rather soothing. (It’s kind of like something you’d drink in a Parisian café!) This CMA performance served as a solid launching pad for the track to find success on country radio, where “Never Ever…” pretty much bricked.

At the end of the tune, Swift laughed when greeted with applause. Yep, no surprised face. She thought about, but it never fully happened. So, there’s that.

What did you think of Swift’s rendition?

More CMA Awards coverage:

CMA Awards: See the winners here!

CMA Awards: Brad and Carrie’s best jokes

CMA Awards: Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert’s tearful speech

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