top of page

Getting Back Together with Taylor Swift: Red (Taylor’s Version)

It's official. Taylor Swift has gained access to the vault.

The Grammy-winning singer Taylor Swift released "Red (Taylor's Version)" on Friday, a re-recording of her renowned 2012 album "Red," as part of her ongoing campaign to reclaim ownership of her early songs.

While the original album only had 16 songs, "Red (Taylor's Version)" has 30 songs, including collaborations with Phoebe Bridgers, Gary Lightbody, Ed Sheeran, and Chris Stapleton. It also contains nine previously unheard tracks that were not included in the finished version in 2012.

"I've always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken," Taylor Swift stated in a statement earlier this year, revealing that her upcoming album, 'Red (Taylor's Version),' would be released later this year.

Swift's fourth studio album, released in October 2012, was an honest representation of young heartbreak, highlighting every painful part of a fractured romance. She later claimed that the album is like a "heartbroken person" trying to piece together the "mosaic of feelings" created by those situations.

Swift's country-crossover style was also infused with everything from dubstep to rock, laying the groundwork for the run of full-fledged pop albums that would follow. But, most importantly, it was evident that 'Red' was composed by someone in their early twenties, capturing those formative years and emotions when everything is confused and confusing.

'Red (Taylor's Version)' is Swift's most recent re-recorded album, part of an extraordinary effort to reclaim rights of her master recordings after masters of her early tracks were sold off many times without her permission. The re-recordings began earlier this year with 'Fearless (Taylor's Version),' and will see her revisit her first six albums, from her self-titled debut in 2006 through 2017's 'Reputation.'

'Red (Taylor's Version)' essentially follows in the footsteps of 'Fearless (Taylor's Version),' praising Swift's previous work while making no alterations. It's not so much an exercise in revisiting and altering previous tracks as it is in reclaiming ownership of her music. The production is a little sharper here, with the instruments brought into greater focus: the opening percussion of 'State of Grace' is crisper, the soft-rock guitar of the title track is a little brighter, and the mandolin of 'Stay Stay Stay' is elevated.

Taylor Swift's voice has matured dramatically in the intervening decade, and the vocals are the most noticeable difference. It's most evident in the spoken-word parts, such as 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together 'caustic remark: "With some indie record that's much cooler than mine." It's the kind of eye-roll moment that comes with being a young adult, and while it's delivered with vigor in its production, the shifts in Swift's lyricism and vocals in the century since it was initially released are precise in these moments. It's one of the album's only distinguishable alterations from the original.

Swift has dived into her vault of unreleased tracks, as she did with the re-recorded 'Fearless,' bringing out 10 new tunes and Swiftie deep cuts written during the 'Red' era for the expanded and enhanced new version. For Swifties, it's a treasure trove, an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Swift's musical world in the early 2010s.

Some of the new songs have previously been heard: the moving charity single 'Ronan,' 'Better Man,' a Grammy Award-winning song for the country group Little Big Town released in 2016 that Taylor Swift composed several years prior, and 'Babe,' which country duet Sugarland released in 2018. Swift applies the 'Red' filter to the last two tracks, adding mandolin and lush strings to 'Better Man,' while long-time collaborator and producer Jack Antonoff adds brass and a '1989'-style gloss to 'Babe.'

'Nothing New,' a beautiful collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers, was co-produced by Aaron Dessner, who collaborated with Swift for the first time on last year's studio albums' Folklore' and 'Evermore.' "I've had too much to drink tonight / How did I go from growing up to breaking down?" In the chorus, the pair asks over acoustic guitars and rising strings, "How can a person know everything at 18, but nothing at 22?" It's a seamless blend of both growing pains and Swift's particular poetry.

The expansive set also includes earlier collaborations that did not make the final 'Red' tracklist the first time around. 'Message In A Bottle,' an effervescent slice of pure-pop reminiscent of Carly Rae Jepsen's '80s-influenced album 'Emotion,' was co-written by Max Martin and Shellback (who previously worked on 2012's 'I Knew You Were Trouble' and '22'). Ed Sheeran, who previously contributed vocals to 'Everything Has Changed,' reappears on 'Run,' an earnest duet produced by Dessner.

The moment Swift's fans have been waiting for arrives at the end of the two-hour album, with the controversial 10-minute-long version of 'All Too Well,' which was teased ahead of the album's release. Swift's magnum opus has become a fan favorite over the years, and the last moments of her second re-recorded album are dedicated to finishing this famous composition.

Swift first revealed in a 2012 interview that the five-minute song was initially double that length, but she trimmed it down because she believed it was too long for the album. 'All Too Well,' now at its full intended length, only reinforces its reputation as an epic, with the Swiftian drama played out as the instrumental flows behind her voice. The painfully honest situations shine through in the new lyrics. Swift admits at one point, "You kept me like a secret / But I kept you like an oath," Swift reveals at one point. "You said if we had been closer in age / Maybe it would have been fine."

Taylor Swift says as the final whispers of vocals fade away, and the album comes to a close: "It was rare; you remember it all too well." It's a touching moment on its own, but it's also a perfect assessment of this massive song: the long-awaited masterpiece worth the wait.

Also, Taylor Swift has directed a special short film for her 10-minute extended version of her track "All Too Well."

Swift took to Twitter on Thursday (November 11) to provide one more update before the film's debut. "Shot on 35mm film with cinematography by the brilliant @the_rinayang," she said, tagging cinematographer Rina Yang.

Swift also released the film's official poster, which depicts stars Dylan O'Brien (The Maze Runner, Love and Monsters) and Sadie Sink (Stranger Things, Fear Street) sharing an intimate moment and looking into one another's eyes. The film credits also adorn the poster, reminding us that Swift is also the writer and director in addition to acting in the film.

Were you feeling excited? Well, that's the fantastic thing about Red (Taylor's Version) - it's a homage to how far she's come, but it makes you even more eager to see where she'll go next. This is the golden period of all that is good, right, and accurate. And, according to Swift, the golden age is really just getting started.

As Taylor Swift tweeted, ​​It never would have been possible to go back & remake her previous work, uncovering lost art & forgotten gems along the way if we hadn’t emboldened her. “Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Now we begin again.”

Red (Taylor’s version) is out now:


bottom of page