‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ does not fall short of being a perfect autumn album

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Beth Garrabrant

Taylor Swift sits in a red car to fit the thematic photo shoot for “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

I woke up in the morning, grabbed my Taylor’s Latte from Starbucks, and popped in my earbuds to listen to “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

As it was her fifth album release in 2 years, I had high hopes for the re-recorded version of her 2012 “Red.” Following a well-marketed release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” “Red” met my expectations.

For listeners that are unfamiliar with Swift’s journey as an artist, she first came into the limelight when she was only 15 years old and signed with Big Machine Records. Scooter Braun, who Swift has an unfavorable view of, purchased her masters from Scott Borchetta. This purchase infuriated Swift. Now that her contract with Big Machine Records is up, she can re-record her albums, five years after the original release date. With the new albums, Swift will own the music she wrote and created.

Swift announced the album five months in advance, with no lead singles and a changed release date, but it was shockingly successful. According to Spotify data, Swift broke her own record from her release of “Folklore” for most streams in a day of a female artist’s album, as a record that has already been released.

On the record, nine songs were released that fans have never heard. The vault tracks are the songs that have not been released but were meant to be on the original album. 

My favorite vault track is “The Very First Night,” which fans are theorizing to be a love song about another woman, from Swift’s perspective, but it feels a little too much like a 2012 pop song. “Nothing New” is the first song Swift has released with a female artist singing a full verse. In the past, female artists have been featured only on background vocals, but Phoebe Bridgers broke this trend, with a devastating and vulnerable track. “Babe” and “Better Man” both exceeded my expectations from the original versions I had heard from Sugarland and leaked clips. “Forever Winter” is arguably one of the saddest songs on the album, about a man that was struggling with mental health. “Message In A Bottle” had the potential to be a great song, had it been released in 2012 with the original album. It feels far too childish and out of this time, and it doesn’t seem appropriate for a 31-year-old to release.  

Swift also released and starred in a music video for a vault song featuring Chris Stapleton: “I Bet You Think About Me,” directed by Blake Lively. It featured a wedding scene, which fans believe has possible connotations towards her 2010 album, “Speak Now.” Swift already premiered a short film for the vault’s 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” was the biggest letdown for me. I listen to Taylor Swift for hours at a time, so hearing that the 10-minute version of one of the most heartbreaking tracks was being released was very exciting news. As I was listening to it, I was disappointed to discover that it felt very chaotic and unnecessarily long. Fortunately, after some more time listening to it, the song grew on me, and I’ve come to terms with it. The short film that premiered for the song was beautiful. Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, who starred in the film, did a fantastic job in their roles. My only criticism now is that the film was too explicit, considering how many young viewers are in Swift’s audience. A few days after the original release, Swift attempted to make the song even sadder and released a remix labeled as the “Sad Girl Autumn Version.”

As for the original 21 songs fans have heard before, most of them went unchanged. The only difference was the maturity in her voice, which matches the sorrowful tone of the album. “Girl at Home,” to its detriment, had some major differences in the sound editing With my first listen, I realized it sounded like Swift had too much wine and played with the soundboard. Having no changes to the songs on Fearless, I was hoping that would be matched with Red, so this was a disappointment. Additionally, “The Last Time” featuring Gary Lightbody, was one of my favorites on the 2012 version. Lightbody and Swift have voices that really pair well together, but in the updated version, Lightbody seems to overpower Swift in the verses and chorus.

Swift has worked closely with Ed Sheeran in the past, and he was featured in two tracks on this album: “Everything Has Changed” and “Run (From The Vault).” Sheeran’s voice sounded much better in the 2012 “Everything Has Changed,” but “Run” exceeded my expectations, as someone that isn’t a fan of Ed Sheeran.

Overall, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” was a well constructed, and beautiful album. Though there were some songs that fell a little short of my expectations, the album overall was wonderful to listen to and the songs from the vault added another exciting element to the work. I feel that this album was a great addition to this autumn season.