‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ Echoes Empowerment


Cover for “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).”(Courtesy Beth Garrabrant)

By Heather Graham, Assistant Copy Chief, Arts Writer


When Taylor Swift announced that she would begin re-recording her award-winning catalog of music, there was a lot of mixed emotions from fans and critics alike. The new recordings would allow Swift to reclaim ownership of her first six albums after the master recordings of her Big Machine discography were acquired by industry mogul Scooter Braun. It is not unheard of for musicians to re-record work following a behind-the-scenes dispute with their record label, but there is little precedent for it to be done in such a high-profile manner as this. The significance of this is not lost on Swift’s fans. 

The Songs

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” gives fans 26 tracks: all the songs from the original and platinum edition, six previously unreleased tracks “from the vault” and a bonus remix.

For the most part, Swift has gone to extreme lengths to mimic the original country textures of the first “Fearless” — including her country twang. Swift also invited several of the album’s session musicians and guest features to join her on the new recordings. None of the edits are wildly different, but, in typical Swift fashion, still feel like small Easter eggs for die-hard fans.

The near carbon-copy sound is both a good and a bad thing. There are certainly lines that remind the listener just how much Swift has changed from talented country girl to pop superstar as Swift resisted the temptation to alter the song arrangements or lyrics — even the ones that could possibly have used a bit of polishing. Her voice is more mature than at 18, her tone richer, deeper, and more sure of itself. It’s tempting to suggest that the lyrics may take on a different feel or lose the adolescent emotion when coming from an adult Swift, but it instead actually lends to the objective of reclaiming this moment in the songwriter’s life and career. Some songs are more moving when revisited for “(Taylor’s Version),” like “The Best Day,” a song Swift wrote about her mother years before her 2015 cancer diagnosis.

The new songs “from the vault” are enjoyable, though not groundbreaking by any means. They do, however, give listeners a glimpse into Swift’s writing process and the tracks that ended up “on the cutting room floor” for one reason or another. These tracks also provide fans with backstory to some of Swift’s most talked about songs and moments. “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” for example, was released a couple of days before the official release of “(Taylor’s Version),” resulting in a trending Twitter frenzy of speculation and discussion about Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas, all fueled by a Swift tweet and a post from Sophie Turner, Jonas’ wife, on her Instagram story, saying “It’s not NOT a bop.” The track is bright, catchy and definitely filled with biting emotion. 

“That’s When” features Keith Urban and adds a nice, twangy country vibe — a throwback to the era when Swift toured as an opening act for Urban, in case the listener was to forget Swift’s roots. 

The Verdict: 4.5/5

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” hits in a big way for fans, creating excitement for revisiting old favorites, finding nuances and Easter eggs and getting to know the tracks from that era that were left out of the original pressing. This release, the first of six promised “(Taylor’s Version)” albums, ushers in a moment of empowerment and independence, echoing throughout the music industry that is bound to leave a lasting impression.


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