Nine years after its initial release, Taylor Swift rereleased her fourth studio album, Red. Running just over two hours long, Red (Taylor’s Version) features the rerecordings of the original 21 songs from the album/era, plus nine new songs “from the vault.” It’s the second album she has re-recorded in the process to regain ownership of her masters.
Nominated for album of the year in 2013, Red was one of her most successful albums. This album marked her big transition into mainstream pop, as her songs started to stray away from her usual country sound. With songs both heartbreaking and youthful, Swift herself described the album as a “fractured mosaic of feelings” as she embarked on her early 20s.
The album had major hit songs like “22,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Other beloved songs include her iconic breakup song “All Too Well” and the emotionally colorful title track, “Red.”
With its fair share of hits, it seemed the new rerecordings were going to garner a very wide audience of fans old and new, creating an unbelievable amount of anticipation for its release. Thankfully, the album lives up to that anticipation, expanding on its maturity and sound.
It’s been almost 10 years since the album first released, and it’s glorious to hear the voice of a more mature Swift with her subtle yet warmer tone. Her maturity radiates across the album in her voice and in the production of her songs. As a common theme across her rerecordings, it seems to improve her music drastically.
During the process of rerecording her songs, Swift is finally liberated to do as she pleases with her songs. She’s finally able to produce her songs the way she wanted them to originally sound. One of the weaker songs on the album, “Girl at Home,” acquired a new poppy, upbeat sound to it, getting rid of its original country sound.
This substantial improvement made fans appreciate a song that was considered one of her “worst” songs. She continues to tweak her other original songs as well, contributing to the improvement of her own album.
Remarkably, her most cherished song to date, “All Too Well,” became even greater with the highly anticipated 10-minute version. The longer version, which includes verses and lyrics not included in the original song, gives the it way more meaning and elegance. It contains some of her most excruciating lyrics to date as she sings, “They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new hell / Every time you double-cross my mind.” Without a doubt, the entire 10 minutes are absolutely marvelous and essentially capsulizes the whole album.
The nine vault tracks, which seem to be more exciting than those of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), prove to make the album even more sensational and heartbreaking. They are each different in their own magnificent way, making it seem shameful that they have been locked away for all these years.
Collaborations with spectacular artists like Chris Stapleton, Ed Sheeran and Phoebe Bridgers add more character to the album. “I Bet You Think About Me,” featuring Chris Stapleton, brings back Swift’s signature country twang. She also reintroduces her iconic tradition of writing about her exes, ending her song with a sendoff only she would write: “I bet you think about me when you say / ‘Oh, my God, she’s insane; she wrote a song about me.’”
“Nothing New,” featuring indie singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, cultivates the insecurities women may feel while growing up. It is yet another brilliant tear-jerker by Swift with staggering lyrics such as “How can a person know everything at 18 / But nothing at 22?” As one of the more compelling vault tracks, it proves that another Swift/Bridgers collaboration should happen.
The album provided another Sheeran collaboration with “Run,” which has similar elements as their other duet on the album, “Everything Has Changed.” Although they are very similar, both acoustic duets embrace the outstanding balance the two artists form in these songs.
Another vault song, “Message in a Bottle,” is filled with inspiration and synth-pop, and it sounds like a flashback to 2012. If it had been released back in 2012, it would have dominated the charts, possibly overtaking some of her other chart-toppers.
Overall, Red (Taylor’s Version) celebrates her journey and growth over the years by taking back what is rightfully hers. As her career moves forward, her talent is perpetually improving, and it is shown incredibly in her re-recordings. Being able to make an iconic pop album even greater than it was shows that her talent is absolutely unmatched. Plus, the versatility of this album undoubtedly makes you feel happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.