Release Date: November 12th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- State Of Grace (Taylor’s Version)
- Red (Taylor’s Version)
- Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)
- I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version)
- All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)
- 22 (Taylor’s Version)
- I Almost Do (Taylor’s Version)
- We are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version)
- Stay Stay Stay (Taylor’s Version)
- The Last Time (Taylor’s Version) (feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)
- Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)
- Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor’s Version)
- The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version)
- Everything Has Changed (Taylor’s Version) (feat. Ed Sheeran)
- Starlight (Taylor’s Version)
- Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)
- The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version)
- Come Back… Be Here (Taylor’s Version)
- Girl At Home (Taylor’s Version)
- State Of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version)
- Ronan (Taylor’s Version)
- Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
- Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) (feat. Chris Stapleton)
- Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- Run (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) (feat. Ed Sheeran)
- The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
In one of my previous reviews, I outlined that the album experience, the looking through the liner notes, the reading and sometimes heavy analysing of the incredibly small lyrics, the eager anticipation of being one of the first people in existence to hold a physical copy of a particular album that has been eagerly expected by all… well that experience is almost non-existent now. On the whole, people favour the consuming of the single over whole album experiences… but within the past couple of weeks, an album has come along to shake the very fabric of our musical existence. An album has come by and has completely shattered records beyond comprehension. An album has come by and redefined how we listen to music and how much we still respect the concept of the album. And album has come by and has reshaped our love for music in general, and an album has come by to confirm what we already know. That iconic and legendary pop/country singer/songwriter Taylor Swift… is one of the most prolific though-provoking, skilful, confronting, and inspiring songwriters and singers, of yesterday’s generation, of the modern music era (our current generation), and probably of tomorrow’s generation also.
Where do I start when I’m discussing Taylor Swift? Well, the other month, I wrote an extensive blog about her and her sustained influence in the music industry and over so many lives; so you all can read that at your own leisure. But basically, if you want the cliff notes version of what I said in the blog (because essentially that blog was super, super long!), then I’ll just say that Taylor’s vocals are compelling, stirring and quite heavenly really; but I believe that it is Taylor’s nuanced, level-headed, honest, personal, emotional, and empathetic narrative storytelling… that really cements her place in this list of influential artists of all time. It is the song-writing in my opinion that also lands her as one of the most relatable people in the world at the moment. There seriously isn’t anything to dislike about Taylor Swift, and her songs throughout her discography has received widespread listener, critical and commercial acclaim. Taylor has broken a lot of Guinness World Records for her music, and she is one of the best-selling artists of today. With Taylor being prominent throughout her career in the genres of country, pop and folk; it is her down-to-earth nature, her humbleness and her kindness that seems to win fans over. And as for me and my listening experience to Taylor’s discography over the past few months; can I say that I am now a bona-fide fan of hers? Of her song writing and of her singing? Taylor has accomplished a lot in her 15 + years in the spotlight, and she has grown up immensely. Granted, she’s grown up primarily in the spotlight and in the public eye, however I reckon that the way that she has handled criticism and haters has been full of professionalism, poise, and grace. For me, my love for Taylor’s music and her storytelling, is embedded in her songs and how deep she dives; and every Taylor Swift song means something to someone- and that is what I reckon is so profound, special and beautiful about everything that Taylor releases.
The other month I reviewed Taylor’s album Fearless (Taylor’s Version). I still stand by those comments. There’s something special about these rerecorded albums on the whole, and there’s a sense of pride that we feel for Taylor, for her taking back control and taking back what is rightfully hers. Taylor’s vocals have effortlessly soared throughout the years, and it is nostalgic and sentimental to hear Taylor deliver the songs we know and love, with a more mature and seasoned vocal. RED (Taylor’s Version) has me excited for the future of whatever else Taylor will record, and has also cemented my love for her music- I am definitely an unashamed fan now. RED (Taylor’s Version has also broken several streaming records. It became the most-streamed album in a day from a female artist on Spotify (more than 90.8 million global opening-day streams, surpassing the previous record of 80.6 million by Taylor’s 2020 album Folklore), while Taylor also became the most streamed woman in a single day (with more than 122.9 million global streams on the platform across her entire discography), and the first woman in Spotify history to amass 100 million streams within one day. Isn’t that just… remarkable and astounding and every other powerful adjective that you could think of? The impact also, of RED (Taylor’s Version), cannot be denied; as many re-recorded songs have been outperforming their original counterparts and have been popular on social media platforms like TikTok.
As much as I’m right now a recent fan of Taylor Swift (and not a ‘stan’, as described in this article!), and as extensive and in detail as my blog about Taylor actually was; I still reckon I’m not all that qualified to speak about this latest album with such authority. Sure, I’ve enjoyed this album immensely. Songs like “State Of Grace”, “Red”, “Begin Again”, “22”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, “The Last Time” and “Everything Has Changed” have all been enhanced greatly in my opinion, and listening to them in great detail once again brings a smile to my face as just how epically awesome the album of Red actually was in 2012. But talking about Taylor Swift and the emotions she makes us feel within these newly recorded familiar tracks… is somewhat a futile exercise. Because these songs need to be experienced and felt and heard firsthand to be fully appreciated and understood. Reviews which are much more professional and thought out than mine (like from Pitchfork, The Lantern, Metro Weekly, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Variety, and NME) and a in depth article from Billboard, do an excellent job at revealing just how revolutionary and history making RED (Taylor’s Version) actually is- even more ground-breaking, influential and impacting than Fearless (Taylor’s Version); while country reviewer Grady Smith’s assessment of Taylor’s Version of RED is extensive and deep as well, as is youtuber Ashley Ippolito’s video about RED (Taylor’s Version).
It may seem like I’m taking the easy way out and giving you all a bunch of links instead of saying what I really think. But can I just say that even though Taylor’s music has wowed me over the past few months, and the album of Red in particular; sometimes it’s best to leave the reviews, of such an iconic and legendary album, to the experts. There’s this fear of not being adequate to the other sites, and for an artist as big as Taylor… well I’d say it’s silly to even try to voice my thoughts on the nuances and intricacies of this project and the subtle differences in Taylor’s voice. Just my two cents worth. But what I will do though is briefly touch upon these ‘From The Vault’ tracks… which are in my opinion, outstanding. “Ronan”, a song about the tragic death of a three year old boy with neuroblastoma, is one of the most emotional, moving and impacting songs that Taylor has recorded throughout her entire career, while “Better Man”, originally recorded by country quartet Little Big Town, is just as poignant, emotional and honest- the track being about someone leaving an abusive relationship, and the fact that ‘…sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again, but I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man, and I know why we had to say goodbye, like the back of my hand, but I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man…’. “Nothing New”, a powerful and eloquent collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers, is as compelling as it is existential, and is a piano ballad that speaks about the transience of life, and how we as people tend to figure out as we go along in life, that we know nothing much, and that we need to be ok with being ‘nothing new’ and not offering much like the ‘younger people’ with much more hype and buzz. In a way, this song is about aging and changing and being different that you once were; while Sugarland’s “Babe” is enhanced greatly by Taylor and to me is an album highlight, as the previously pop/country track is given the acoustic treatment here. “Run”, with Ed Sheeran, and “I Bet You Think About Me”, with Chris Stapleton, are other impressive moments on RED (Taylor’s Version), with the former being a stirring ballad about travelling down the open road with the one person that you love, and the latter being a savage country influenced melody, complete with harmonica, as Taylor sings to her ex (presumably Jake) sarcastically and derisively. One of the poppiest melodies from RED (Taylor’s Version) is “Message In A Bottle”, a track that Taylor sings about Harry Styles, who she was dating at the time; however it is “All Too Well” (the 10 minute version of that song!) that has garnered buzz, praise and critical acclaim. It’s the ONE song you should listen to if you could only listen to one song from RED (Taylor’s Version).
Truly, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) [From the Vault]”, is a masterpiece. That’s all there is to it. The 15 minute film is nothing short of brilliant, and is well and truly an art form no matter which way you slice it. Taylor has truly outdone herself here and has created something special that probably everyone will still be talking about a year, two years, even 5 years from now. With the original track being another break-up song about Jake; this 10 minute melody, this verseless, chorus-less track and 10 minute stream of consciousness, is one of Taylor’s most vulnerable, honest, gut-wrenching, moving and thought-provoking songs ever. A track that beautifully juxtaposes the raw emotions, heartbreaking loss, aching love still felt and the torturous and conflicting pain, with the smooth composure and the sleek professionalism and Taylor at times taking the high road in the way she sings and her lyrics- she is savage towards Jake without being downright rude; well, this epic track reminds us all what a masterpiece Taylor has written and what a songwriter she is. And also… how powerful a storyteller Taylor is too. I mean, this song even makes me hate Taylor’s ex Jake, if only for a bit, and that’s no mean feat, because from his movies, Jake does seem like a likeable guy. Anyways, Taylor has truly saved the best for last, and as she also received a standing ovation when this short film debuted in the cinemas; well, can we truly say that Taylor Swift is an icon and a treasure that will forever be etched into our hearts?
RED (Taylor’s Version) is, to me, my most favourite album of 2021. I guess it seems strange to say that aloud, given that I’m actually proclaiming and declaring an album with songs originally written in 2012, to be the best album a whole 9 years later. but such is the prowess and passion and heart and soul of this living legend called Taylor Swift… that I guess it’s not a surprise that RED (Taylor’s Version) has impacted so many. Could we expect anything less? Anyway… shall we guess what’s next? 1989 (Taylor’s Version)? Or Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)? Or another entirely new studio album (just to break up the cycle)? Or a year’s break? Whatever the case, Taylor has reminded us that songs matter. That lyrics matter, and that timeless songs are timeless songs. I think I’m at the point where I can say with confidence that I would go to a Taylor Swift concert… and actually be proud of the fact. Most of the world’s population though, would be in the same boat as me and probably will also eagerly await to see Taylor in concert. But with the world still in flux because of COVID-19 and its variants; right now the only thing to do is to spin through RED (Taylor’s Version). And so listen to this album, we shall. Until we know every word and every note. Taylor Swift is a superstar. Maybe it’s time we thank God we’re living in the same era as Taylor.
5 songs to listen to: State Of Grace, Everything Has Changed, Better Man, Nothing New, All Too Well (10 Minute Version)
RIYL: Ed Sheeran, Robbie Williams, Beyonce, Andrew Peterson, Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, Jason Gray, Tenth Avenue North, Keith Urban