We know that Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force. Just look at her two lockdown releases, folklore and evermore, which led to six Grammy nominations, including a win for folklore in Album of the Year. Not content to sit back and relax, or to let a douchebag producer own her old music, the natural next step was a re-recording of her first five albums. With Reputation to follow when the re-recording ban is lifted on it, the fans have more than enough to get excited about.
The immediate outcome is Fearless (Taylor’s Version), announced on Valentines day with a re-recording of hit single ‘Love Story’. To make this process even more special, each re-release will include a selection of ‘From The Vault’ tracks, which were written in-period but never made it onto the album.
Quite honestly, Fearless has never been my favourite Taylor Swift album. I always appreciated ‘You Belong With Me’, one of its rockier singles, but otherwise my attention has always been drawn more to the pop mega hits Red and 1989. What a mistake that was! With tidier and punchier production, Fearless (Taylors Version) pulls the diamond from the rough. Combined with Taylor’s stronger current vocals and a few subtle lyric changes, this near-classic has been given a new lease of life. While the writing isn’t as strong as her more recent efforts, especially folklore, the total package feels much closer to the rest of her recent discography.
Furthermore, the inclusion of six ‘From the Vault’ tracks that didn’t make it onto the original album are just the cherry on top. The deeper insight into the process of producing an album, trying to figure out why each track wasn’t originally included and what this reveals about the album is quite enjoyable, if admittedly probably not what most casual listeners will be doing. Of particular note are ‘You All Over Me’, which feels almost more like a song written for folklore or evermore, and ‘Mr Perfectly Fine’, a scathing country soft rock riposte to an ex that really should have been on the original release in my opinion.
So, what comes next? With another 5 albums to re-record at some point, and clearly no regard for any sort of predictable release order, the immediate future looks exciting and surprising for Swifties. Currently, the fandom believes 1989 is waiting in the wings, with a new version of ‘Wildest Dreams’ featuring in the trailer for a new DreamWorks film, as well as some frankly scarily obsessive attention to details and creative mathematics stirring up some speculative fans. I will do bad things to hear ‘New Romantics’ on vinyl…