Review of Red (Taylor’s Version)

Taylor Swift Red (Taylor's Version), album cover from genius.com

Taylor’s Version of Red revists old favorites and gives fans new songs to fall in love with. “Red (Taylor’s version)” features 30 songs, including 9 new, never released before songs, and the 10 minute version of her hit song “All Too Well.” This album was originally released in 2012. Over these last ten years Swift’s voice and style have developed and matured. This new re-release reflects that new style while preserving the emotional, heart aching and beautiful wave of emotions that “Red” was originally intended for. 

One of the reasons that the re-recording has been getting so much media attention is because Swift has been known to drop “easter eggs” online and in her music that give listeners clues to what she will be doing in the future. Swift said in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that this has been going on since she was 15; she used to hide messages in the fine print of the CD booklets for her albums. 

For the release of “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Swift posted a cryptic video on Twitter and Instagram that showed scrambled words coming out of a red vault. She had done something similar in the past, so fans assumed that this was a word scramble that would tell them the names of the “from the vault” tracks on the album. After writing the letters down on paper, fans discovered that it was actually a 13 x 13 crossword puzzle (13 being Swift’s lucky number), and did in fact have the titles of the unreleased “from the vault” songs hidden in it. Swift confirmed the track titles soon after, and fans have been waiting in anticipation ever since. 

So, grab a cozy blanket, a cup of tea and snuggle in for the emotional ride that is “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Most of the songs sound very close to the original but with nice updates such as slight musical changes, better vocals and clearer lyrics. Wth the original songs Taylor re-recorded in a way that left us with subtle, but good changes. “State of Grace” (the first song on the album) to “Stay Stay Stay” were great hits with very little change. 

However, “The Last Time (featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)” was altered in a way that didn’t do the original song justice. Maybe it’s just because the original song is one of my favorites and I’m being picky, but this version of the song wasn’t as strong as the original. The original had stronger, more powerful musical waves, while the re-record sounded lighter and more whimsical when the song is supposed to be dark and sad. 

The songs “Holy Ground” through “State of Grace (acoustic version),” were also really close to the original, had the same vibes and were very well done. It’s the nine new songs though that really made this album fun and extra heartbreaking to listen to. The first of the new songs is “Ronan.” This previously sung, but not yet released song is truly a tragedy. This song is beautifully done and heartbreakingly explores themes of grief and loss. 

“Forever Winter” explores themes of mental health, never giving up, breaking down and being there for someone consistently. The lyrics are sad, dark even. The music however, is light and fluffy. While this mix can work frequently and Swift’s message is leaning more toward “I’m here for you, don’t give up,” a darker more serious musical choice might have reflected the lyric’s tone more accurately. Overall though, this song was a beautiful reminder that no one is alone. 

On the other hand “Better Man, Babe and I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapelton),” are reminiscent of her country days and explore breakup through the lens of moving on and getting better. “I Bet You Think About Me” specifically is country gold. The harmonizing of Stapelton and Swift is especially amazing on this track as his deep country twang complements her voice so well. 

“Run (featuring Ed Sheeran)” is similar to “Everything Has Changed” and is actually the first song that Sheeran and Swift wrote together. It’s a bit quicker than “Everything Has Changed,” but just like that song, this one suits both of their voices well and works with their style. 

“Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)” is a perfect blend of Swift’s album “Folklore” and Bridger’s album “Punisher.” The melancholy song has a relatively simple melody, but the lyrics tell us about the challenges of life in the spotlight. Swift sings about her fame, and wonders what will happen when her art is no longer considered new and exciting.

“Message In A Bottle” is quite different from a lot of the other songs on the album. The pop production of this song is a reminder of the fact that when “Red” originally came out, Swift was making the transition from country to pop. Fans have very different opinions on this song, but no one can deny that Swift has incredible range as an artist. She switches genres at ease, which is not the case for most musicians. 

The “Very First Night” is another song off this album that fits under the pop umbrella. Although it is very upbeat, the lyrics themselves are about heartbreak, which is not uncommon for Swift. Dissonance between the lyrics and production of the song occurred a lot in her album 1989, which was released right after Red. 

The ten minute version of “All Too Well” is a masterpiece. Not only does it give fans a better glimpse into the controversial relationship between Jake Gyllenhaal and Swift, but it also drops an F bomb, gives fans five extra minutes of content and transforms this already amazing song into a piece of art.

Written By: Reyna Huff and Ally Andre