Taylor Swift - Red (Taylor’s Version) Album Review

Story posted November 16, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio.

Taylor Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version),” marking the fifth time Swift has released a new album in the past three years.

The word new is used sparingly here as “Red” is a 2012 album that Swift has now re-recorded. It may be confusing to casual fans as to why Swift is re-releasing her old music, however it is in an effort for Swift to be able to own her albums.

When Swift started in the music industry, she was signed to Big Machine Records at 16. This label owned the rights to Swift’s first six albums as a part of her contract.

Swift decided to part ways with the label when her contract expired after not letting her purchase her masters to own them herself. Big Machine Records then sold her masters to Scooter Braun. According to Swift, Braun has been a bully to her throughout her career.

Following this news, Swift publicly announced in 2019 that she would be re-recording her first six albums. She started with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and continues now with “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

Using these re-recordings to her advantage, Swift has added tracks “From The Vault” to these albums. These tracks were written and even recorded for the original albums, but didn’t make the final cut. 

“Red” was a pivotal album for Swift when it was initially released. It was her first album that straddled the genres of both country and pop at a time when she was only known for country music.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” contains 30 tracks. The original album from 2012 makes up the first 16 tracks. The next four were featured on the deluxe album. “Ronan (Taylor’s Version)” was a charity single released during this era, and the following nine tracks are “From The Vault.”

Due to the lack of change, many opinions about the original/deluxe track-list remain the same. “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version),” “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” and “Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)” are not only highlights on the album but in Swift’s entire discography.

Hits such as “I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version),” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version)” and “22 (Taylor’s Version)” remain fun and entertaining.

These songs are essential to Swift’s career. While they may lack the maturity of the aforementioned songs, they prove her ability to put out pop hits and emotional ballads.

There are weaker songs such as “Starlight (Taylor’s Version)” and “Girl at Home (Taylor’s Version).” Neither are bad songs, just easily forgotten among some of Swift’s most notable works.

“Ronan (Taylor’s Version)” was originally a charity single about a mother’s story with her child who died of childhood cancer. Swift asked Maya Thompson (the mother/co-writer) if she could include this song on the re-record so the two could remain the owners of her son’s story.

Cut from Swift’s original recording of “Red,” both “Better Man (Taylor’s Version)” and “Babe (Taylor’s Version)” were recorded by other artists (Little Big Town and Sugarland, respectively) before becoming vault-tracks. Swift’s versions of these songs feel more personal, impressively enhancing them both.

“Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [feat. Phoebe Bridgers]” is one of the better-unreleased tracks. Lyrics like “How can a person know everything at 18, but nothing at 22” are some of the most heartbreaking on the album. Having Bridgers on the track only improves it as both artists can relate to the music industry’s unrealistic standards for women.

Tracks like “Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” and “The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” fit more into the pop genre, while “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [feat. Chris Stapelton]” is a legitimate country song.

Considering Swift had to balance the album between pop and country, it isn’t a surprise that these songs didn’t make the cut. While many of these tracks would be highlights of lesser artists’ careers, not many would disagree with Swift’s decision not to include them on the 2012 album.

Perhaps the most anticipated song from this entire re-recording is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).”

“All Too Well” is widely agreed upon to be Swift’s best song to date. This 10-minute version was what Swift initially brought to record “Red,” but cut it down to be included on the 2012 album.

If anyone needed convincing that Swift is a brilliant lyricist, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” is an achievement that could persuade even Swift’s biggest haters that she is one of the best lyricists of all time.

After hearing lyrics such as “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” and “Just between us did the love affair maim you too,” will have listeners questioning how Swift decided to cut any of these lyrics.

While the original “All Too Well” is utterly heartbreaking, the 10-minute version tells the whole story with an array of emotions from heartbreak, rage, disappointment and shame. It is truly the pièce de résistance of Swift’s illustrious career.

Even with the song being the last track on the album and over 10 minutes long, it became the number one song on Spotify and Apple Music after its release.

The only honest criticism of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is that the track-list is a bit odd. Going from the upbeat “Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)” to the heartbreaking “Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor’s Version)” can be off-putting upon first listen.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” isn’t sonically as cohesive as albums such as “1989” and “folklore,” but in terms of overall themes, it is beyond successful at achieving cohesion.

This album had the biggest female debut in Spotify history with 90.6 million listeners on the first day, beating the record she set with “folklore.”

“Red” was already one of Swift’s most highly regarded albums, and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” puts it over the edge. “Rolling Stone” gave “Red (Taylor’s Version)” 5/5 stars, becoming one of only 15 albums since 2020 to receive this praise.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is indeed a triumph, and fans can only hope that Swift’s upcoming re-recordings can meet the high standard she has set for herself.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewers Favorite Songs: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version),” “Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)” and “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [feat. Phoebe Bridgers].”

Reviewers Least Favorite Songs: “Girl At Home (Taylor’s Version),” “Starlight (Taylor’s Version),” and “Run (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [feat. Ed Sheeran].”

 

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her email sgd5184@psu.edu.