Taylor Swift's recreation of her 2008 album Fearless is so much more mature than its original.
Listen to Fearless (Taylor's Version) on Spotify here.
Listen to the original 2008 version of Fearless here.
Almost identical yet so much more moving, Taylor Swift’s re-recording of Fearless (2008) takes listeners back to their days of puppy love, underlined by maturity and nostalgia.
An effort to reclaim legal ownership of her music, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is the first of six new and improved versions of decade-old music that accompanied many listeners through multiple journeys of new love and inevitable heartbreaks.
The production on this new version is more polished - slightly sharper and clearer – but most notable is the richness of her vocals. Gone are the breathy choruses and heavy country inflections, replaced by a delivery strengthened with experience, deepened with age, and more confident of itself.
The micro-changes are barely noticeable, with Swift making a clear attempt to stay true to several intonations including the awkward laughter and hiccups of 'Hey Stephen'. On other tracks like 'Fifteen' and 'Tell Me Why', she shows improved musicality, changing inflections for pause and impact, but maintains the illusion of shadowing the original production released 13 years ago.
However, the knowledge and life experiences that come with adulthood, as the 31-year-old re-creates songs written by her teenaged-self, clings to every track. For example, on 'Change', - which Swift initially wrote about being on independent Nashville label Big Machine, the intention is flipped into something less moving, with a much more knowing twinge as she sings, “The battle was long [...] we’ll stand up champions tonight”.
Bringing in modern-day collaborators like Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, Swift further pulls out of the old version of Fearless.
She moves from re-inventing herself on a brilliant rendition of 'Mr. Perfectly Fine', culminating on the cooler notes of stand-out offering 'Forever and Always', where Swift swaps out sorrow for acceptance.
Much like the original version, the songs on Fearless (Taylor's Version) swing wildly between romanticism and mourning, but the melodrama of angered teen is smoothly replaced for a breeze of contentment.
The album marks the beginning of Swift’s journey into her brimming vault of music that established her cross-genre style. It’s not perfect, but there was no intention to be; Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is where present Taylor meets Taylor of the past, where observations teeming with maturity meet unfiltered emotions from the heart.