Fearless (Taylor's Version) Review: Swift Regains Power Through Re-recordings
By Hayley Rea--Eagle Assistant Editor
Fearless became Taylor Swift’s first album to receive the “Taylor’s Version” revamp this month as she works to regain the rights to her older albums.
In early 2019, music manager and investor Scooter Braun acquired Swift’s previous record label, Big Machine Records. Braun’s management style encouraged Swift to change labels, sending her to her current record label, Republic Records.
However, she was unable to keep the original recordings of her songs from Big Machine Records due to a sale to a private company initiated by Braun.
Because of this, Swift announced in August 2019 that she would be planning to re-record the first six albums in her discography in the near future.
“I’ve spoken a lot about why I’m remaking my first six albums, but the way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully illuminate where I’m coming from. Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work,” Swift explained to Cosmopolitan about the significance of the re-recordings.
Although she had been dropping secretive hints about these plans, the official announcement about Fearless (Taylor’s Version) wasn’t made until a couple months ago on Swift’s Instagram.
“I’m thrilled to tell you that my new version of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is done and will be with you soon,” she announced in the caption of her Instagram post on February 11.
However, the release of the first “Taylor’s Version” album wasn’t the only surprise waiting for fans with this post. Swift also mentioned the inclusion of unreleased songs on this version of Fearless.
“It has 26 songs including 6 never before released songs from the vault,” Swift continued on Instagram.
Her first album announcement post was followed by five more concerning release dates for the album's lead singles and tracklist.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was given two lead singles: “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” and “You All Over Me (Taylor’s Version)”.
“You All Over Me” was released on March 25 as the first “From the Vault” song. It contained a collaboration with country singer Maren Morris.
“One thing I’ve been loving about these From The Vault songs is that they’ve never been heard, so I can experiment, play, and even include some of my favorite artists. I’m really excited to have @marenmorris singing background vocals on this song,” Swift commented in a post about her and Morris’ collaboration.
“You All Over Me” tells the story of trying to forget a past relationship and getting over the pain of the breakup.
Swift starts out singing about how “the way the tires turn stones on old country roads...reminds [her] of [him]” and all the other memories of an ex that come up following a breakup. The song truly captures the essence of Swift’s music: relatable themes paired with descriptive, thoughtful lyrics.
However, I feel that including more of Morris’ country undertones outside of her background vocals could’ve helped the song further embrace the original country feel of the Fearless era.
Outside of the two main lead singles, there was also a surprise third single release of “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version)” on April 7, two days before the full album release.
“Mr. Perfectly Fine” is another one of the six songs released from the vault. There has been much speculation about who the song is about, as is custom with any love song written by Swift.
Ultimately, the song illustrates a past relationship where promises were made, but never kept. Swift includes lyrics about how he was “Mr. ‘Every single day until the end, I will be by your side’, but that was when [she] got to know Mr. ‘Change of heart’”.
Again, Swift establishes the essence of her music with hard-hitting, relatable lyrics. However, these downhearted lyrics are paired with an upbeat melody and a subtle country twang that creates a drastic contrast in tone.
Apart from the newly released songs from the vault, Swift re-recorded every song from Fearless, including the bonus tracks from Fearless Platinum Edition.
Although lyrically these songs are the same ones from 13 years ago, there are some significant differences in musical composition.
For example, Swift’s voice shows a notable change as she has matured and become more experienced in her vocal abilities. The southern accent that she once maintained has also dissipated over the years, giving her songs a smoother sound in the re-recorded versions.
The melodies and instrumentals have also been remastered for Fearless (Taylor’s Version) to give the songs a more refined sound.
Since the full release of the re-recorded songs, many fans have also chosen to boycott the original versions in support of Swift’s independence from Big Machine.
“I already have the original CD, so I have no issue with playing that as it’s not creating any revenue to do that. However, I will be buying [Fearless (Taylor’s Version] for the extra songs and I will make sure never to actually stream the originals,” Nicki Marie, a Facebook user, commented on a Taylor Swift fan group post.
Overall, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) achieved its true purpose: allowing Swift to own her personal music. The re-recorded album showcased her growth as an artist and allowed her to reclaim her power and independence.