13 years after its original release, Taylor Swift released her first re-recorded version of her album Fearless. The album is the first of six albums to be re-recorded after her former label, Big Machine Records, sold her masters to Scooter Braun back in 2019.
First released in 2008, the album increased Swift’s popularity and made her a breakout star. Her second album sold over 10 million copies and went on to win album of the year at the Grammys. It’s one of her most successful albums, making it understandable why she re-released this one first. It was first released when she was only 18 years old. Now she is 31, reminiscing on the early stages of her career and recognizing how far she has come.
Swift collaborated with producers and co-writers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dressner on the project. Swift even brought back the same musicians who were involved in the original recordings, including the band she toured with.
Fearless (Taylor’s version) has a run time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, making it her longest album to date.The album consists of 26 tracks: 13 from the original, 7 from the platinum edition and 6 songs from the vault.
The album offers more than the original, as it gives listeners six unreleased songs from the ‘Fearless’ era. Songs “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” “We Were Happy” and “Don’t You” add to the long list of breakup songs on the record. Two of the songs from the vault feature other country stars, Maren Morris on “You All Over Me” and Keith Urban on “That’s When.”
“Mr. Perfectly Fine” contains some lyrical similarities with the original song “Forever & Always.” In “Mr. Perfectly Fine” Swift sings, “Mr. ‘Looked me in the eye and told me you would never go away’” which is similar to “you looked me in the eye and told me you loved me/ were you just kidding?” from “Forever & Always.” She wrote “Forever & Always” about ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas, which makes fans believe that “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is also about him. The song is just like several other songs in the era, showing off her empowering bitterness about a breakup. It’s a shame that this song was locked away for so long.
While the re-release sounds very similar to the original, the album has some subtle changes. Even though the new version lacks some of her iconic country twang, Swift’s voice sounds clearer and more mature. The instrumentation on the album is very similar, yet stronger, overall improving the production of the songs and making them more emotional and moving. Swift’s version of “Breathe” for example, has more emphasis on the violin. They are more poignant in this version than the original. Some slight tempo changes are also noticeable in some songs like “The Best Day” and “Untouchable.” These changes are incredibly small and don’t impact the overall rating of the album.
Some songs feel more meaningful than they did in the original. The new version of “Tell Me Why” feels more defiant and aggressive, especially while singing “you could write a book on / how to ruin someone’s perfect day,” it feels more bitter and purposeful.
The re-recorded version of “Fifteen” undoubtedly feels more heart wrenching now that she is 31 and has a lot more life experience under her belt. Hearing her sing, “In your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team/ I didn’t know that at fifteen” in the new version sounds more sentimental and believable than before when she sang it at merely 18.
Listening to “The Best Day,” which is a tribute to her mother, is more touching since her mother’s battle with cancer. The song also embodies a bittersweet tone when she sings, “I know you’re not scared of anything at all,” after all that her and her mother have been through together -- a lot of it being imaginably difficult.
Full of heartbreak, adolescence and growth, the album still pulls at listeners’ heartstrings. With songs like “The Way I Loved You” and “You’re Not Sorry,” it reminds one of the ups and downs that accompany being a teenager in love. No matter what age one was when they first listened to the album, they are sure to feel nostalgia while listening to the new version. The re-release represents Swift’s growth and perseverance throughout her career. Fans should be ready to see more prosperity as she re-releases more albums in the future.
Rating: 5 / 5