Available everywhere now, April 9th, Taylor Swift ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version).’
It’s been 13 years since the original Fearless album was released; the album would go on to become the most awarded country album of all time. Despite Taylor Swift switching genres two times, going from country to pop and then from pop to alternative/folk, it is a magical experience to hear her sing songs she recorded when she was a bright-eyed teenager setting the stage for a career as a young, relatable country star. Hearing the first drumbeat in the opening song, the title track “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is enough to transport hard-core Swift fans or casual listeners to the days of 2008 when this album became the soundtrack to people’s younger years.
The highly anticipated “vault songs” that are fresh for listeners, come at the end of the album. Each one of them is well-written and solid; it makes you wonder why they were booted off the original version. “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is similar in theme to “Forever and Always” (hence why it probably didn’t make the final tracklist). In a way, it sounds like Swift is trying to mimic her younger voice in “Mr. Perfectly Fine” making it fun to listen to. There’s an early 2000s spunkiness about this song that is rarely seen in her newer music. Vault song “We Were Happy” is a heart-wrenching tune that showcases Swift’s well-known iconic songwriting in the bridge as she sings, “Oh, I hate those voices telling me I’m not in love anymore / But they don’t give me choices and that’s what these tears are for / Cause’ we were happy.”
One of the best things Swift could’ve done was add country features and that’s exactly what she did on two of the new tracks. Keith Urban is a feature on track 24, the fourth vault song, called “That’s When.” Urban and Swift have a little bit of history that might not be common knowledge to most people. In 2009, Swift was the opening act for Urban on his Escape Together World Tour. During one of the shows, Swift and her entire band pranked Urban by coming on stage dressed as iconic rock band KISS. Fast forward years later when Urban was brought on stage as a guest during Swift’s 1989 World Tour stop in Toronto where they sang two songs together. Now, in 2021, they finally lend their voices in a song of their own.
In “That’s When,” Swift and Urban both get a verse to themselves where they are seemingly conversing back and forth with each other. The parts of the songs that shine the brightest however, are when the two are singing together in the chorus. The same goes for, “You All Over Me,” a vault song that features current country superstar Maren Morris. This song is slow in pace but beautiful and raw-sounding due to it’s acoustic guitars and the vocals lent by Morris who harmonizes using her unique lower register. “You All Over Me,” the first of the vault songs, opens with the line, “Once the last drop of rain has dried off the pavement” which parallels the opening line of “Fearless” on which Swift chimes, “There’s something ‘bout the way / The street looks looks when it’s just rained / There’s a glow off the pavement.” “You All Over Me” feels like a full-circle, sad ending to the happiness and child-like wonder that exudes from “Fearless.”
Each other song on Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has been heard before, but on first listen it’s hard not to get emotional hearing Swift’s incredibly mature vocals sing songs that were originally done by her younger self. This time around, the songs sound more powerful, they sound fuller, and it is easy to tell how far her vocals have come; even the giggle on “Hey Stephen (Taylor’s Version” sounds more mature. Out of every song on the album, “Forever & Always (Piano Version) (Taylor’s Version)” sounds the most grown-up as the stripped-down, piano backed song showcases Taylor’s vocal performance like no other song on the album does. She sounds strong yet vulnerable, and makes it known that she understands the strengths of her voice more than ever.
“White Horse,” a standout on the older version and the song that earned Swift her first GRAMMY Award , is once again a notable track on the new version. The line, “I’m gonna find someone someday / Who might actually treat me well” pierces through the heart just like it always has, except this time it feels somewhat comforting. As if older Taylor, who is in a long-term, happy relationship, is giving solace to her younger self. The same goes for the song “Fifteen (Taylor’s Version)” a song about entering high school and the naivety that comes with it. Instead of sounding like a diary entry, it feels like a letter Taylor is now singing to her juvenile self who didn’t know what was in store. Listening to this album in full is nostalgic yet new in the best ways.
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