Review: Fearless (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has done it again. By ‘it’, I mean managed to record a THIRD lockdown album. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) hit streaming platforms at midnight on Friday 9 April, and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks transported back to my tween years as a deeply committed Taylor Swift stan.

The album, a rerecording of her 2008 record, features nineteen songs from the original platinum album, 2010 Valentine’s Day soundtrack song ‘Today Was a Fairytale’, plus six previously unreleased tracks ‘From The Vault’.  It is the first part of Swift’s campaign to rerecord all her first six albums so that she owns the masters.

Speaking about Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Swift said she wanted it to feel “the same but better”. She enlisted the help of her original touring band, as well as collaborators Colbie Caillat (who appeared on the 2008 version), Maren Morris, and Keith Urban, whom she supported on tour during the Fearless-era.

Listening to the re-recordings of all the hits I grew up with, I was struck by just how much Swift’s voice has matured. ‘Love Story’ sticks out in particular – it was such a touchstone piece of music for an entire generation of young girls, and hearing it remastered was both emotional and thrilling. Each line, while keeping its lyrics and melody, seems stronger – undoubtedly a result of Swift’s painstaking review of each word on her 2008 album, improving every inflection. She also had to reteach herself to sing with her early trademark country fry, no mean feat given that her music in the last decade has been largely pop and more recently folk. The result is a nostalgic throwback to her early discography, made all the better by over ten years of experimentation and maturation.

‘You Belong with Me’, one of my favourite tracks when I was younger, is equally iconic in its rerecording. If, like me, you dreamt of holding up signs to your attractive hypothetical neighbour in the window as a tween, the remaster will transport you back.

The six previously unreleased tracks each add something new to the album. My favourite is ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’. Its country pop vibes, transporting me back to early Swift, coupled with trademark witty lyrics make it classic Taylor for me, something I didn’t know I’d been missing until I heard the familiar twang of her acoustic guitar. ‘We Were Happy’ is classic weepy Swift content (and I have wept). ‘Bye Bye Baby’, which closes out the album, is reflective and restrained, and is a perfect end to an album which looks back on a completely different time in Swift’s life.

2008’s Fearless is credited for positioning Swift as one of the most significant artists of her generation. Taylor’s Version reasserts the power of her early work while reminding us that she is always improving and working on herself, as well as standing up against unfair treatment by record labels. It is truly a testament to her relentlessness that, instead of accepting not owning her first six albums, she has embarked on a mission to rerecord them all and give us new tracks to cherish. I can’t wait to see what she does with re-recordings of later albums and relive my teenage years track by track.

Caitlin Barr

Featured Image Source: Still via Taylor Swift – Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (Lyric Video) // YouTube

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