I was roughly nine years old when “Fearless” came out. I vividly remember watching the “You Belong With Me” music video on my iPod and being genuinely in love with Taylor Swift. At the time she was one of the only country artists I would willingly consume, and for good reason, Fearless era has some of the most catchy tunes of the time. My fan status dissipated somewhat after “Speak Now.” I didn’t NOT hear this album, I had two sisters with good taste in music, but I never sought it out. “Red,” the original release, had a few big radio hits that I heard, but this should be considered my first real time diving into “Red” with this new release “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
It is quite a ride. This album is not only a remarkable collection of musically solid tracks, but also a deep dive into the mind of Taylor Swift and her past relationship. Break-up and relationship-based songs are not new to Swifties, but such a graphic retelling has the fanbase shook.
Right off the bat, this album is very clearly a mixing pot of genres. The first track starts off with a clear pop beat and up-beat pop vocals. “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)” is a delightfully light and catchy track. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is a great example of the genre compilation Taylor was looking for. This track is clearly a country piece. The lyrics feel like a standard country track and the instrumentals support a twangy banjo, which I love. Taylor Swift has a way of making me love country. Not only are her lyrics solid, with no mention of trucks or beer or a “hot little lady,” but how strong and hard-hitting her love must be for all the topics of her tracks.
Within this big mixing pot, we are blessed with some real solid features. “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version)” has everyone’s favorite skeletal emo queen Phoebe Bridgers. This duet is not only heartbreaking, asking, “Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?” but also the gut punch of a lyric “How can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothing at twenty-two?” This piece of vocal art is not only incredibly relatable and raw, but all too real for a generation of neurodivergent kids who felt somewhat stranded in their own skin.
Although I sometimes have a hard time differentiating track from track, it’s not really an issue. This album deserves to be listened to from top to bottom. It deserves to be put on in the background while you are cleaning, or driving to get coffee, or reading a book. This album also deserves to be swallowed whole and really digested. The subtle factoids and insights into one of the most impressive and decorated female artists of our time deserve to be listened to intently. This is not only a remarkable record, but a triumph for female artists everywhere. Not only did Taylor reclaim all the tracks robbed of her via Scooter Braun and Big Machine Label Group, but she reclaimed herself, her own stories, and re-recorded them so everyone can really understand “Red.” I give “Red (Taylor’s Version)” 4.1 Mikey Heads out of 5.