By Conner Tighe When Taylor Swift rereleased her classic “Love Story” back in February, you best believe I was hyped. It was a teaser for her latest reimagined vision of her 2008 Fearless. I only now realized the crooked business war behind the album, but the announcement was something fresh and new she hadn’t done yet. We hadn’t heard country from Swift in years. The artist added an additional 13 tracks to her 2021 version making it her longest tracklist to date. You may find yourself accidentally listening to it for a number of hours like I did. Long story short, it’s worth the listen, let alone the purchase, if you have the cash. Swift has come a long way after moving from Pennsylvania to Nashville at just 10-years-old. With inspirations from female country icons like Shania Twain and Faith Hill, who sang about faith and womanhood independence, the young artist pursued her interest in country, releasing her first album Taylor Swift in 2006. If you listen closely, Swift continues to keep those themes with some of her tracks. The 2006 album was the first of a string of troubles to come with previous label, Big Machine Records. Her latest album Fearless (Taylor’s Version), is her tenth album, and it is her best since 2019s Lover. Ten years can make a difference for anyone, but try 13 years. After an ongoing battle with previous music manager, Scooter Braun, Swift decided to revamp her musical roots after Braun sold six of Swift’s albums for more than $300 million last year. This event came after Braun bought Big Machine Records. Since he was then in charge of Swift’s music future, he limited the artist on what she could and couldn’t perform. The founder of the company, Scott Borchetta, offered Swift a new label, but the artist took matters into her own hands singing onto Universal Music. “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” the singer said in a 2019 Tumblr post. Well, no more. 2021’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is a direct act of defiance toward Braun, and honestly, she’s better off because of it. Her independence as both a female artist and an artist of free will makes me love her even more. Swift advocated for artists having the right to own their own work tweeting on Feb. 11.
Astounding tracklistI would be tone-deaf if I said the tracklist was overdone or not worthy of a listen. Fearless 13 years later continues to be heartfelt, even more so now with the history. I did not expect a 26-track filled album, as many of her albums range from 15-17 tracks per album, yet here we are. Swift combines past hits like 2008s “Fearless,” “White Horse,” and “You Belong With Me” and new tracks with her own spin on the classic guitar and love ballads. The album is a return to her teen angst years of high school, love gone wrong, and early days in the country music world.
We used to watch the sun go down/On the boats in the water/That's sorta how I feel right now/And Goodbye's so much harder/'Cause we were happyUnlike Folklore and Evermore, Swift manages to carefully balance tear shedders with upbeat feminist vibes. Old collaborations like Colbie Caillat’s “Breathe” return, but its revamped version brings additional voices from Maren Morris (“You All Over Me”), and Keith Urban (“That’s When”). I enjoyed the collaborations as they were a breath of fresh air from her usual pop aesthetic. I only wish there were more country collaborations. Not only was the album a wave toward Braun, but was a heartwarming reminder of her musical past. Swift has always been one for not needing a man in her life, but as she does, the singer sneaks in tracks like “Jump Then Fall (Taylor’s Version)” and “Don’t You (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” to provide reassurance that the artist is not entirely lost. Swift has been dating actor Joe Alwyn for four years and shows no signs of creating a breakup hit as she has kept her relationship out of the spotlight.
Original vs. Taylor’s VersionSwift came for first place when she delivered those additional 13 tracks. I found her original 13 tracks (Taylor’s Version tracks) to be better in presentation compared to new tracks (From the Vault). It’s difficult to pinpoint why but lately the artist has delved more into melancholy, slow-paced tracks which can deliver amazingly at times. Particularly “We Were Happy” sticks out as one of her best slower-sounding tracks on the list. I guess I have a special place in my heart for the young, country singer many of us were introduced to so many years ago. But don’t let this discourage you. Swift can still sing some country.
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down/Now it's too late for you and your white horse/To come aroundSwift’s versions of past tracks like “White Horse,” “Hey Stephen,” and others sound nearly identical to her 2008 releases, but perhaps that’s the point. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is exactly that, Taylor’s version. In that regard, the revamped versions neither sink nor help her past releases climb in progression.
Top tracks:Fearless (Taylor’s Version) Fifteen (Taylor’s Version) White Horse (Taylor’s Version)
Recommended if you like:Harry Styles Shawn Mendes Maren Morris
Sources: Byte, TaylorSwift.com, Time, Fandom, Rolling Stone, Page Six, The New York Times, The New York Times, New York Post, Twitter, Insider Featured Image: Genius