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Album Review: Red (Taylor's Version) Gives Younger Swift Another Chance to Shine

Taylor Swift took inspiration from her 2012 album cover when redesigning Red in 2021. (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the US Copyright Code)

By Chloe Coleman--Eagle Staff Writer

Three months after the release of her album Red (Taylor’s Version) on Nov. 12, 2021, Taylor Swift’s second re-recording still continues to make its mark.

“Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heart-broken person,"Swift described in a letter to her fans. "It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past.”

She was right. Red (Taylor’s Version) is an emotional rollercoaster from track one to track thirty. It’s raw, heart opening, and relatable.

The album begins with the re-recorded version of “State of Grace" a track that feels like the beginning of a love story. Red as a whole seems like it could function as a book about love, and “State of Grace” is the perfect prologue.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)”, the title track, is still as passionate as when it was originally recorded in 2012. As Swift sings about feeling “burning red,” listeners are brought back to a time they felt the same way.

“Treacherous (Taylor’s Version),” is another passionate yet angsty song that fits the album's "burning red" theme. To me, this song is about pursuing something you know isn't good for you because it feels so good to have it.

However, some of the biggest hits off the original album, “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” fall short from the rest of the re-recorded album. Swift’s sound changed dramatically in nine years, and I felt that the initial angst in these songs had faded.

Taylor Swift revealed she wanted the photoshoot for Red to be romantic yet free spirited to match the songs of her album. (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the US Copyright Code)

"22 (Taylor's Version)" and "Stay Stay Stay (Taylor's Version)" keep a playful and cheerful sound as the album progresses. Swift conveys the same charm and charisma in these songs as she did in 2012.

Track 7, "I Almost Do (Taylor's Version)" is an undeniable standout on Red (Taylor’s Version). This song feels personal, and when she says “I almost do,” I can’t help but think of the time I almost did. The guitar in this song holds the listener’s hand through the song as Swift’s voice coaxes you into reaching out. "I Almost Do" feels like reading Swift’s diary, and it’s intense.

"The Last Time (Taylor’s Version)" is a duet between Swift and Gary Lightbody. Lightbody is best known for being the lead singer of Snow Patrol, the band that made hits like

"Chasing Cars" and "Run". Lightbody’s low register and Swift’s feminine sound blend beautifully to paint the picture of a relationship someone just can’t let go of. The piano in this song stands out and works well with the rest of the beat, and makes "The Last Time (Taylor's Version)" an underrated treasure.

Sad, Beautiful, Tragic (Taylor’s Version)" continues the personal feel of the album Swift has established. Swift's songwriting talents take this song to the next level, with lyrics like "In dreams I meet you in warm conversation," and "You've got your demons and darling, they all look like me."She's mourning the loss of someone she really loved, and she makes me feel every word. Swift’s maturity shines through in this song and it's a must-listen on Red (Taylor's Version).

This album wouldn't be complete without 9 completely new tracks, which Swift pulled from the “vault”. According to Swift, it's the place for her songs she wrote for the original album that didn't make the cut. It makes for interesting throwback songs that fans never thought they'd see.

To begin this once-secret chapter, “Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)" and “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)" showcase Swift's songwriting talent. The maturity in her voice matches the lyrics she originally wrote better than ever. "Better Man (Taylor's Version) (From the Vault)" was previously recorded and popularized by Little Big Town. Taylor's version is a little softer than the released cover, but I honestly enjoyed it more.

It’d be hard to talk about Red (Taylor’s Version) without mentioning “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” the longest number one hit of all time. In response to breaking that barrier, Taylor wrote"I'm so proud of this song and the memories I have with you guys because of it," in a message to fans. Fans rode for this song, and there's good reason for it.

The short film for "All Too Well" is just under 15 minutes long. (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the US Copyright Code)

"All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"is an enhanced version of the shorter song mentioned earlier. While a ten minute song may sound too long to some, it doesn’t get boring because of the intense storyline Taylor includes. In the accompanying dramatic video, Sadie Sink and Dylan O'Brien play a toxic couple with a strange age gap in Swift's directorial debut All Too Well (The Short Film). The video helps bring life to the song. It's tear-jerkingly realistic, and Sink and O'Brien do amazing job with their characters.

Many theorize inspiration for this video (and film) came from Swift's high profile relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, but Swift doesn't confirm or deny any theories. Regardless of how this song came to be, Taylor took her life and made a record-breaking song all while letting the world see her growth. Swift’s artistry and progression as she's aged truly shines through in the saga of All Too Well.

Red (Taylor’s Version) is a solid 10/10 album. Swift continues to guarantee fans a winning album everytime she releases. The songs sound different, but most tracks keep an interesting and enjoyable sound. Red (Taylor's version) is worth the listen and the hype, and I would recommend it to anybody that wants to get into Taylor Swift, or has been a fan since her younger years.

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