REVIEW: The “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” album is here with no fears

After her previous label, Big Machine Records, sold Taylor Swift’s discography from her first six studio albums, Swift has decided to re-record them to take back ownership of her art.

Album cover courtesy of Spotify.

Album cover courtesy of Spotify.

Kizzy Azcarate, Contributing Writer

After months of breadcrumbing her fans with hidden Instagram posts and enlisting up-and-comers Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Grey to tease her re-recordings, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is finally here.

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is the first of her six albums that will be rerecorded. Swift also gifted fans with six never-released songs that she refers to as “From the Vault.”
In August 2019, while doing press for her “Lover” album, Swift announced on “Good Morning America” that she would be re-recording her albums because “artists deserve to own their work.” Sticking it to the music industry and the men who leveraged, sold, and now possess her art, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” was the perfect album to begin the re-recording process.

The banjos playing and references of trucks, rain, and black dresses brought me back to the nostalgia of 2008, only this time I was able to spot the differences that would carry out throughout the re-recorded album. From the production to the vocal inflections, emotion, and vocal control, Swift proved from track one that she was going to take on this project with the same care and commitment she sought out to do when she recorded the Grammy-winning album at 18-years-old.

Many critics and fans were apprehensive about how Swift was going to be able to tackle these songs because she’s no longer naïve about relationships or patching up a wounded heart.

On songs like “Fifteen (Taylor’s Version),” “Forever & Always (Taylor’s Version),” and “You’re Not Sorry (Taylor’s Version)” she was unable to evoke the same emotion the original songs had.

Though not as strong emotionally, a new layer was added for track two, “Fifteen (Taylor’s Version).”

Swift wrote “Fifteen” at 18-years-old, dedicating it to her 15-year-old self and fans as a reflection and consolation about the mistakes made during adolescence. Listening to a now 31-year-old Swift sing to her 15-year-old self about knowing who she is more than a decade later, added a level of reassurance and confidence that the original couldn’t emote. Her songwriting on “Fifteen (Taylor’s Version),” highlights how eloquent and perceptive she has always been, even at a young age.

In 2019, Swift was awarded at “Billboard’s Women In Music” as “Woman of the Decade.” During her speech, she said, “…people had doubts about my singing voice. Was it strong enough? Was I a little bit pitchy?”

Swift noted that she has always been insecure about her voice but with the re-recording, she has showcased how hard she has worked since her 2008 win and on “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “The Other Side of The Door (Taylor’s Version)” is that most noticeable.

Being the album’s opening track, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” set the precedent of what was to come. As soon as Swift sings her first two verses, the original recording sounds like a run-through before laying down the vocals compared to. With Swift now expanding her vocal range, she could take her old songs and give them a new life. In the chorus line, “You take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless,” Swift’s rerecording didn’t lose the same punchy attitude that was on the original but exceeded it.

Another improvement can be heard on the outro in “The Other Side of The Door (Taylor’s Version),” from how she exemplifies how effortless her voice sounds going from head voice, or the voice with higher-pitched sounds, and her chest voice, or her normal speaking voice, that resembles the same sassy, taunting, and intentional attitude mirrored throughout her hit single “Blank Space” from her “1989” album.

As for her “From the Vault” songs, “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” and “You All Over Me (Feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” were the best well-packaged singles that Swift granted us.

While “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” is about a breakup that left one person devastated and the other, for a lack of a better term, fine. This anthem flows perfectly with the other notable breakup anthems on this album.

A banjo, harmonica, and first verse referring to rain and muddy roads embody the Fearless era perfectly on “You All Over Me (Feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” Enlisting the help of country songstress Maren Morris, “You All Over Me (Feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” is a sultry country song that has enough yearning and vulnerability that you would play when driving away from your ex’s house after a break up at 2 a.m.

While some of us are basking in the “Fearless” rebirth era, superfans, regarded as Swifties, have already begun dissecting interviews for the next re-recorded album.

Suspicions began when Swift’s “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” was used as a trailer song for the “Spirit Untamed” Disney remake movie. Also, while promoting “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” Swift used pictures of Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” from 1989, the same year titling her second “Album of the Year” Grammy win.

Whether or not we’re gifted with “1989: Taylor’s Version” next, it’s still good to know that after all these years, Swift still allows us Swifties to dive into conspiracy theories and favorable memories.

Kizzy Azcarate is a Contributing Writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, tweet her @Kiztagram_or [email protected]