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REVIEW: The Record-Breaking Album ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Ellenor reviews the long-awaited, highly anticipated and extremely emotive re-work of Taylor Swift’s infamous ‘Red’. The artist has been teasing Swifties with this for months – and it couldn’t come at a better point in our lives, with deadlines and seasonal depression looming…

On 12th November 2021, Taylor Swift once again made history with her second re-recorded album Red (Taylor’s Version). Intertwined in a controversy with her former talent manager Scooter Braun over the ownership of her recordings, Taylor announced she would be re-recording her first six albums in order to ensure she had sole ownership of her music – and rightly so! As a result, Swifties across the globe have been able to relive the 2012 Red album with an evolved musicality and nostalgia, first experienced with the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) earlier this year. Red (Taylor’s Version) however has gone above and beyond with a short film release, plus nine bonus ‘(From The Vault)’ tracks including a long-awaited 10-minute song, causing the album to break two Spotify records on the day of its release!

The nine bonus tracks seamlessly fit into the rest of the album with a mix of upbeat tempos such as ‘The Very First Night’ and ‘Message In A Bottle’, alongside slower melodies including ‘Better Man’, ‘Forever Winter’, and a personal favourite ‘Nothing New’ featuring Phoebe Bridgers. Swift and Bridgers explore the vulnerability of ageing in this track with profound lyrics that have clearly resonated globally with it being the most-streamed ‘(From The Vault)’ song at the time of writing, excluding ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version)’ which I’ll get into later.

Other features on the album include Chris Stapleton in ‘I Bet You Think About Me’ – whose vocals and harmonica add a real country twang to the album – as well as original features from Gary Lightbody in ‘The Last Time’ and Ed Sheeran in ‘Everything Has Changed’, plus Sheeran’s other feature in the bonus track ‘Run’. The Swift/Sheeran harmonies are effortlessly smooth in the latter song making for a pleasant listening experience which rivals the duo’s earlier track on the album.

In terms of the pre-existing Red (Taylor’s Version)’s tracks, they certainly succeed in living up to their original recordings. With pop classics such as ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, ‘22’, and ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ appearing on the album, I had concern that Swift may struggle to remake such iconic tracks to the same standard. Yet this concern was put to rest upon my first listen of the re-recordings. Despite Swift’s sharper vocals since her 2012 release, she has maintained the novelty of the original songs, positioning the 2021 version at the same standard if not better!

The whole album however reaches its peak in the 30th and final track ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version)’. This long-anticipated version of one of Swift’s most popular songs has been teased by the songwriter for years, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. With heartfelt lyricism ‘All Too Well’ expertly tells the story of a breakup, including prominent imagery and motifs that Swift is renowned for – “dancing ‘round the kitchen in the refrigerator light”. This more subdued 10 minute version tells the narrative in further detail with new verses and an extended outro which I personally cannot stop listening to. As a piece of music, the song is beautifully produced with synthesised instruments that is clearly distinguishable from the original and more so aligns with her recent albums folklore and evermore. I could ramble about this song for ages but you don’t need me to tell you how good it is – the fact that the most-streamed song on a 30-track album is a 10-minute one should tell you all you need to know. Not to mention the release of ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’ starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, which is based on the song and provides a moving visual to aid the lyrics.

The entirety of Red (Taylor’s Version) has exceeded expectations and smashed Spotify records. Previously held by Swift herself, the new release has become the most-streamed album in a day by a female, alongside Taylor becoming the most-streamed female in a single day in Spotify history!

It is simply incredible that Swift has achieved this with a re-recorded album, and has once again confirmed that she is the most successful female artist in the modern era. Taylor Swift may of course not be everyone’s cup of tea, but her talent as a songwriter, singer, and entertainer cannot be disputed.

I’d encourage everyone to give the album a listen, or at the very least the final track which has become an all-time favourite of mine!

5/5 stars. 

Head of Reviews for Nottingham 21/22 Final year English & French undergraduate!
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