Although less than a year has passed since the surprise release of “Folklore” and her sister album “Evermore”, Taylor Swift has already started her journey of re-recording her first six albums. After losing his masters to Big Machine Records upon signing at New Republic, Swift announced in 2019 that she would be able to reissue her music from November 2020. This era began with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”, Swift’s second album. While the singer-songwriter offers a plethora of nostalgia on this 26-track album, Swift also introduces a new, mature sound with sharper overall output.
“You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)” instantly overcomes the original with its powerful electric guitar and vocals. The song’s sneaky young narrator has now transformed into a confident woman who isn’t afraid to say what she wants. Swift’s energy throughout the trail never fades. Even the famous lyrics “‘Because she wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts / She’s a captain and I’m on the stands” feel refined since the original was released 13 years ago. The mix of instrumentals and vocals is perfect.
Swift’s storytelling skills undoubtedly shine in “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)”. The track immerses the listener in a dreamy fairytale land from the start. It opens with a folk guitar while Swift himself tells “Romeo and Juliet”. The melody of the building intensifies as Juliet wonders if Romeo will be her knight in shining armor. Once again, Swift’s impressive voice gives the narrator a stronger and more powerful presence. This uplifting tone continues in “Hey Stephen (Taylor’s Version)”, which is a yet a real lead. Swift’s passion is evident as she hums along with the tune and laughs about the main character.
“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” includes six unreleased bonus tracks. Highlights of these include “When Is It (Taylor’s Version) [ft. Keith Urban] (From the vault) ”and“ Mr. Perfectly Perfect (Taylor’s version) (from the vault). The first is a melancholy and magnificent duet on the consequences of a difficult breakup. The vocals of Swift and Urban blend wonderfully together while acoustic guitars and drums accompany them. “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” plays cleverly with his lyrics, “Hello Mr. Casually Cruel / Mr. Everything Revolves Around You / I’ve been Miss Misery since your farewell.” The upbeat tone of Swift with the bitter lyrics creates a captivating contrast as her voice echoes pleasantly throughout the chorus.
Swift shows a beautifully emotional side with the ballads “The Way You Loved Me (Taylor’s Version)” and “The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)”. “The Way You Loved Me (Taylor’s Version)” opens with drums that resemble a beating heartbeat, leading to an alternation between soft strings during the verses and an electric guitar during the chorus. “The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)” is a heartfelt ballad about Swift’s mother. Fairytale visuals come into play again as the musician recalls his childhood memories. Once again, Swift’s vocal range is breathtaking. It easily goes from an intense feeling to a sweet ode.
The only song missing is “Breathe (Taylor’s Version) [ft. Colbie Caillat]. Unlike the duet with Urban, Caillat is barely audible. The featured artist disappears in the background, as if there is a mixing problem. Swift’s vocals and instruments are crystal clear, but the song’s impact on two parting friends is lost.
“Change (Taylor’s Version)” perfectly represents the album as a whole. Swift recounts the trials and tribulations of the journey to becoming her own artist. The vocals are the most personal on this track, especially given Swift’s current situation of no longer owning her original masters. However, she sends a hopeful message: “This revolution, the time will come / For us to finally win / And we will sing hallelujah.” The lyrics are strong enough on their own, but it’s the instrumentals that turn the song into a gripping hymn.
Achieving Taylor Swift being able to reclaim and recreate her music, in her own way, is nothing less than empowering. “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” beautifully proves that old themes can still be relevant today, welcoming fans new and old. Swift is no longer the small town country girl but a talented artist who creates sincerely and without fear.