The cover artwork for Red (Taylor’s Version).
Over the course of the pandemic, few artists have shown the same tenacity as American singer, Taylor Swift. November 12 marks the release date of Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift’s re-recording of her classic 2012 album that contains 30-tracks, 9 of which are previously unreleased songs, “From The Vault.” Featuring musical collaborations with Phoebe Bridgers, Gary Lightbody, Ed Sheeran, and Chris Stapleton, it also brings fans nostalgia with hit singles “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22.”
Known for her ability to traverse genres and transform criticism, this is not Swift’s first release post-pandemic. In July of 2020, she released the surprise album “Folklore,” an Indie-folk record that jump-started a new era for Swift. Recorded in quarantine with producers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, Folklore represented a third genre shift for the artist. Shortly after, in December, she released the sister album, Evermore. She also won her eleventh GRAMMY after Folklore was nominated for album of the year. As if that was not enough, Swift then announced her plans to re-record all six of her first albums, beginning with Fearless (Taylor’s Version) which was released in February of this year.
This bold endeavour was born after record executive, Scooter Braun of Ithaca Holdings, bought Swift’s label, Big Machine, and in doing so bought all of the master tracks to her albums. Re-recording her albums as “Taylor’s version” will allow her to regain control of her work while minimizing the profits Braun can make off of her music, and by doing so she is also giving so much back to her fans by dusting off and unveiling unheard songs “From The Vault.”
Fans were anxiously awaiting the re-recorded version of Red after the singer revealed that the song “All Too Well,” a fan favorite, would be released in its original form, a 10-minute version. The 10-minute song will also be transformed into a short film which dropped shortly after the album release on the evening of November 12. Swift released a teaser of the film on Good Morning America, revealing she directed and starred alongside Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf actor Dylan O’Brien. The video tells the heart-wrenching story of a relationship between ‘him” and ‘her,” two unnamed characters, noticeably separated by age. The 15-minute film is split into seven chapters – ‘An Upstate Escape’, ‘The First Cracks In The Glass’, ‘Are You Real?’, ‘The Breaking Point’, ‘The Reeling’, ‘The Remembering’ and ‘Thirteen Years Gone’ – each documenting a formative period in Sink and O’Brien’s fictionalised relationship. Not only is this film the first music video that this hit song has received, but it also drops a lot of hints for what is to come for the future of Taylor Swift.
Overall, Red (Taylor’s Version) offers noticeable differences from the original tracks with the addition of the “From the Vault” songs giving fans insight into how the album may have sounded had Swift been given total creative freedom. Taylor, now 31, was only 22-years-old when Red was originally released. Still, it is powerful to hear the words that the songwriter produced at such a young age. The project of the rerecords also gives her fans a unique positionality. For those who were only in their early teens when the original album was released, now find themselves relating to the heartbreaking tracks as young adults. With all the shared life experiences between artists and listeners, fans are finding the new album even more impactful.