Red (Taylor’s Version): “the musician now has full creative control”

Taylor Swift has released her version of her 2012 album Red, just over 200 days after she released her last re-record. The album may be named red, but Taylor is very much at a creative green light with full speed ahead.

With 30 songs this 2hr and 10-minute is a holy experience. The original tracks including 22, I Knew You Were Trouble and Begin Again take us all back to the first time hearing the album. Falling leaves, steam from a hot chocolate warming your face and earphones in to listen to Swift singing through her early 20s heartbreak.

Understandably, the singer’s voice is deeper introducing a warmer, mature sound. A slight but poignant change, almost like you can hear the hindsight in her voice. As a woman now in her 30s singing about a past love that she went through almost 10 years earlier takes an incredible range of artistic talent, which Taylor exhibits in the somewhat altered songs.

Big Machine Records is the record label that Swift was previously associated with (and the reason for the re-records). When Taylor was writing and producing the album she pushed for a pop sound, which would have been a big change for the country artist, but the label wanted her to stick to her roots. Fast forward a decade, the musician now has full creative control and its exhibited in the changed beat of this version of the album.  At first listen from myself (a major Taylor Swift fan) it sounded different. It’s produced by names including Team Swift classics such as Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. Taylor’s vision for this project has been achieved and her creative freedom is especially prevalent in track 19, Girl At Home which now resembles a completely different song with added drums and backing vocals.

The interest of the Taylor’s Version albums falls on the songs ‘From the Vault’. These are the songs that didn’t quite make it to the final cut and this time around she’s joined forces with artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran.

Nothing New is a melancholy outlook on being in your early 20s and how it feels to have past your prime. It’s my favourite new track, the combination of my two most beloved artists (Bridger and Swift). It’s a grouping that just make sense together, their voices blend into a harmonious duet. The lyric, “How can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothing at twenty-two?” perfectly encapsulates this feeling of losing the self-assurance of a young adult. Realising this is it, this is life, and we better get living it no matter how bewildered we feel.

Another new track is Message In A Bottle which fans have been loving. I won’t lie at first listen I thought it was a piss-take. It sounds like the end credits song to a 2012 Disney film. Upbeat, pop-y, nothing like the songs that the singer has been releasing recently. But after a second of reflection and remembering this is a song that was written exactly around the golden age of 2012 cheesy films, it fits almost too perfectly. Have a listen and tell me you aren’t channelling Hilary Duff, dancing around your room with a hairbrush as a mic.

The most talked about and anticipated song of this album has been the 10-minute version of All Too Well and the short film that accompanied it. All Too Well has long been THE Taylor Swift song for Swifties. It’s a raw, heart-breaking 5-minute song with a bridge that is hailed as the artists greatest. But it was always known that Taylor was hiding a longer version and fans have begged for it for years. This song ventures through the fleeting moments of a whirlwind romance, the exciting beginning of a first love, the cracks that begin to show and then finally the mourning period when it is all over and you are “a crumpled up piece of paper lying here”.

It was released at midnight the day after the album was out, written and directed by Miss Swift of course. Starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink, 2 familiar faces from shows such as Teen Wolf and Stranger Things.The roles were wonderfully cast with O’Brien a 30-year-old man and Sink just 19, it made for an uncomfortable watch. But this was a clear creative decision from Taylor as it demonstrated just how young she was when dating the man that inspired this cut-throat song. Her innocence and emotional immaturity are shown in the film beautifully portrayed by the young actress.

I’m completely overwhelmed with this album in all honestly. 30 tracks with not only new songs to familiarise myself with, but the changes made to the old lovable ones. Alongside the music we have the short film and the endless merch that Team Taylor is ploughing out. Trying to write a review of this album is as difficult as trying to watch a film starring the actor that broke Taylor Swift’s young heart. I’ll never do it justice, I’ll never be able to explain each lyric I love or what reference I think the artist is using. I want to be able to dissect each creative decision or little thing I’d have asked for differently. All I can say is listen to it, Taylor enthusiast or not, this album has the power to transport you to the feeling of being a clueless, emotional 20-year-old hating any actors with the initials JG.

By Jessica Matthewson

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