Album Review: Red (Taylor’s Version)
November 12th, the long-awaited release day of RED Taylor’s Version by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Taylor Swift was a chaotic day for Taylor Swift’s fans, or their self-proclaimed title, “Swifties”. Originally recorded and released in 2012, Red, is the second of six albums
Swift plans to rerecord from scratch after her first six albums were sold without her knowledge. The tracklist of the re-recorded version features the original twenty songs on Red as well as ten new songs, noted as “From the Vault”, that had been written for the album but failed to make the cut.
Included in the “From the Vault” songs is a ten-minute version of the song “All Too Well”, the fifth track on the album. This ten-minute version has the original lyrics that Swift wrote in 2012 but shortened to five minutes because she felt “no one would ever listen to a ten-minute song.” “All Too Well” has been a fan-favorite for years since its release so the full cut of the song is what fans were looking forward to hearing for the first time.
Rerecording an album is a difficult task, especially after almost a decade since the original release. Swift’s voice has deepened over the years, so there is a noticeable distinction from each version of the songs she has released. However, Swift’s “Taylor’s Version” project has largely succeeded for albums Fearless Taylor’s Version and RED Taylor’s Version. After listening to every song off the rerecording, I’ve noticed Swift has almost perfectly replicated her voice and production of each song. The differences are so minimal, I must purposely focus on each instrument and musical note to notice the differences. Between the versions, the production features the most differences. Some instruments are louder, and some notes are played differently to better the song itself. In terms of her voice, the most noticeable differences are the “wee-ee”s of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” where her voice is autotuned to an extreme, leaving it pitchy and borderline annoying.
On the other hand, many songs sound better with the deepening of her voice throughout the decade. The harmonies between Swift and Gary Lightbody on “The Last Time” sound smoother and more emotional and on “All Too Well” the pain of a breakup feels stronger and angrier than the original despite her happy and loving relationship with actor, Joe Alywn.
The vault songs were better than I expected knowing they were left off the original album. “Better Man” and “Nothing New” featuring Phoebe Bridgers are the clear winners “From the Vault.”
“Better Man” explores the sad themes of a breakup and in “Nothing New” Swift and Bridgers sing about the loss of their youth and not knowing what their lives will entail as they mature. The “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” is my favorite of all the songs. Every new lyric adds to the story she created about a decade ago and the ten minutes seem to fly by. Taylor has also directed a short film that accompanies “All Too Well”. The film allows the listener to visualize the song in a new way exactly as Swift intended when the song was written.
Taylor Swift describes Red as “a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end.” Red Taylor’s Version feels chaotic with the emotions it projects but it ultimately comes together and creates an incredible album that remains interesting from beginning to end.