Thursday, November 18, 2021

Taylor Swift relives all the drama of young love on ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’

The latest of Taylor Swift’s re-recorded albums to be released, ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ captures, in its original track list and its new ‘from the vault’ offerings, a glimpse at the many dimensions of love. 

When it debuted in 2012, ‘Red’ showed Swift beginning to branch out from her country origins, and the result is a project that explores not only wide-ranging facets of emotion, but also experiments with sound and genre. 

It often shifts between emotive ballads, such as ‘I Almost Do’, and euphoric and poppy tracks, such as ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’.

New ‘vault’ tracks largely fall on the side of the slow and melancholic, to enjoyable results. ‘Run’, a duet with Ed Sheeran, is a sweet without being saccharine song about being young and in love, accompanied by a pretty melody. ‘Nothing New’, a collaboration with indie-darling Phoebe Bridgers, boasts the stellar lyricism characteristic of both artists, alongside a moody beat.

'I Bet You Think About Me’, which features country musician Chris Stapleton, is the new track that most blatantly plays homage to Swift’s genre roots. It features a harmonica chorus and snidely sharp lyrics that foreshadow the self-aware barbs of her sixth album, ‘Reputation’. Meanwhile, ‘Message In A Bottle’ and ‘The Very First Night’ hint at a movement towards more mainstream pop – with charming, if not entirely remarkable, results. Other commendable new additions are the catchy ‘Forever Winter’ and ‘Ronan’, which are a heart-breaking tribute to a young cancer patient, originally released as a charity single.

The classic ‘Red’ tracks also hold up after all these years and are complemented by Swift’s mature vocals. ‘State Of Grace’‘Treacherous’ and Holy Ground’ are standouts, capturing as they do fragments of a young idealist’s experience of love.

However, maybe the crowning accomplishment of ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ is the 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well’, one of the best tracks on the original album, which boasted some of Swift’s most evocative and impressive song writing to date. The original ‘All Too Well’ gave the impression of snapshots of a relationship, from its rose-tinted beginning to its messy end. The extended version captures more of an uncensored intensity of feeling. While some added lyrics feel slightly out of place – the slogan-like declaration of “F*** the patriarchy”, for example – others, such as “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath”, are powerfully poignant.

Drawing the album to its close, the 10-minute track takes the original ‘All Too Well’ and unwinds it, drawing out new threads of emotional depth, scenes of joy and scenes of heartbreak. The recurring scarf motif proves to be just as compelling as it was in the 2012 version, while the new fourth verse offers what feels like a more recent retrospective from Swift, where she can be imagined at 31, looking back upon a relationship from her early twenties. It also features the gorgeous line, “in this city’s barren cold / I still remember the first fall of snow / And how it glistened when it fell / I remember it all too well”.

Less of a cohesive series of songs, ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ is more like a handful of powerful expressions of emotion – the slightly jarring nature of the movement between optimistically joyful tracks to the pleadingly broken-hearted pays tribute to the rollercoaster of those first brushes with love. It was already one of the strongest parts of Swift’s catalogue and in this revisitation, she has only enhanced it with yet more drama and depth.


Eleanor Burleigh


Image: ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Official Album Cover


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;