On Nov. 12, Taylor Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version),” her highly anticipated, second re-recorded album. The album was met with both critical and commercial success. A success that is, in my opinion, wholeheartedly deserved.
When I had first heard that Swift was going to be releasing the re-recorded version of her 2012 album “RED,” I didn’t find myself as excited as I thought I would be. I was hoping that the next album in her series of re-recordings would be “1989,” or maybe “Speak Now.” But any feelings of disappointment seemed to fall away the closer the release got.
When the album finally dropped, I stayed up and listened to the entire two hour album. I even replayed some of the songs multiple times. I could not get enough of this album, even though most of the songs were ones that had already been heard before.
You can plainly hear how much Swift’s voice has matured since the release of the original “RED,” and it adds a new layer of depth to each song that fans already love. Songs like “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” “Begin Again,” “Red,” “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” are given a new and better life this time around.
Then, of course, there are the vault tracks. These are the songs that did not get the chance to be on the original recording of the album and they’re marvelous. You have “Nothing New” featuring Phoebe Bridgers, where Swift finally lets another woman sing with her on one of her songs in a capacity other than backup, and it definitely pays off. Both women’s voices seem to be made for the song about fearing that they will no longer be loved if they’re nothing new.
Then you have “Babe (Taylor’s Version)” and “Better Man (Taylor’s Version),” both written by Swift for “RED” and given to other artists to record for themselves, namely Sugarland and Little Big Town, respectively. “Babe,” about a wife finding out about her husband’s infidelity, tears at the heartstrings. “Better Man,” a smash country hit when it was recorded by Little Big Town, and also a Grammy winner for Swift’s songwriting, was already great. Hearing Swift sing the songs herself, missing an ex and wishing that he were a better man, is a masterpiece in its own right.
A personal favorite of the vault tracks for me is “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” a fun country song featuring the soulful voice of Chris Stapleton. It’s a song about how different Swift is from an ex, and how she bets he thinks about her. It is the quintessential Swift country song.
The defining moment, the highlight, the capstone of the entire album, comes at the end of “Red (Taylor’s Version).” “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” is the song that really shows that Swift is one of the best songwriters in a generation. The original “All Too Well” was a fan favorite among Swift’s very extensive fanbase. Despite not being a single, the song was many fan’s go-to song to show that their favorite was in fact an amazing songwriter.
This version of “All Too Well” builds upon the original in ways that are superb and exquisite. In the span of 10 minutes and 13 seconds, Swift lyrically rips apart an ex who absolutely and irredeemably hurt her. With lyrics like “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath,” “they say all’s well that ends well but I’m in a new Hell” and “I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes, I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age;” the pain and resentment are palpable.
There seems to be a consensus that this is the best song from the album. Not only did it go number one, it became the longest song ever to do so. And all but one of the songs on the album charted in the Billboard Hot 100, a whopping 25% of the Hot 100 songs were from the same album. Here, now, Taylor Swift delivered a masterpiece.