Taylor Swift Reclaims Her Past on 'Fearless (Taylor's Version)'
Published Apr 12, 2021When the master recordings of Taylor Swift's first six albums were sold to Scooter Braun, Swift promptly announced she was going to re-record her music. It's fitting that she started with one of her most popular albums, Fearless, which was released in 2008. Fearless, Swift's sophomore album, perfectly captured the universal experiences of being a teenage girl — friendships, falling in love, falling out of love and figuring out one's place in this world. Fearless (Taylor's Version) is full of nostalgia, but it also creates new memories for Swift and her fans.
Fearless featured some of Swift's most popular tracks like "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me," which she recorded at 18. Fearless (Taylor's Version) aims to retain her original vulnerability and honesty, even though Swift is now 31 with far more lived experience. While the instrumentals sound similar, the first notable change is Swift's voice, now wistful yet mature.
Each track sounds smoother and improved, with a refresh on the album's production. Instruments like the banjo and acoustic guitar still shower most tracks, but, like Swift's voice, they sound sharper. Yet, not all the original emotion from Fearless is lost. Songs like "White Horse," a track about being let down in a relationship, still feels raw, and "Forever & Always," about Swift's infamous breakup with Joe Jonas, is just as cutting as it was 13 years ago — the same goes for the piano version. Even the laugh on "Hey Stephen" still hits.
It's the youthful tracks like "Fifteen" and "You Belong with Me" that don't feel the same, emotionally. While they're sentimental to listen to, Swift is clearly singing about these moments in retrospect, rather than revelling in her feelings, which comes across in her vocal performance. The naiveties of adolescence and the intense feeling of longing for someone are also captured on certain tracks from Swift's folklore, but they come from fictional narratives rather than Swift's personal experiences.
On Fearless (Taylor's Version), Swift has evolved, and the themes on Fearless aren't as relevant to Swift, who sings about her past with new meaning. This is present on "Change," a song initially about Scott Borchetta — the label executive who signed her as a teenager — and Swift's budding career. Due to Borchetta's involvement in Swift's masters being sold, this song offers Swift and her listeners a chance to reclaim the lyrics — change is on the horizon for her career, but in a different way as she sings, "It was the night things changed / Can you see it now? / These walls that they put up to hold us back fell down." Being able to hear the empowerment in Swift's voice and shift the meaning of these lyrics is a true testament to her power as a musician.
In addition to the album's 19 tracks from the 2009 Platinum Edition re-release, Swift included "Today Was A Fairytale" from the Valentine's Day movie soundtrack and six unreleased tracks "From the Vault" of the Fearless era. These "Vault" tracks are an extension of one of the things Swift does best — write breakup songs. They're a fun treat for fans who can't get enough of Swift's vivid storytelling, from wondering if someone will take you back ("That's When," featuring Keith Urban) to finally closing the door on a past lover ("Bye Bye Baby"). Swift has always been the master of gracefully singing about heartbreak.
Fearless (Taylor's Version) introduces her younger audience to an iconic set of songs and feels like pure nostalgia for her older audience. This re-release signifies the beginning of Swift doing things her way, taking full control of her music and sharing it with fans who are eager to listen. (Republic)