Red (Taylor’s Version) [+ A Message From Taylor]
After re-recording her 2008 album Fearless as part of a sweeping effort to regain control of her master tapes—or at least create new ones—Taylor Swift presents Red (Taylor’s Version), an expanded take on her 2012 blockbuster that features nine never-before-released songs written in the same era as the original.
“Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person,” she wrote in a letter to fans. “It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past. Like trying on pieces of a new life, I went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators. And I’m not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity, or if it was simply time, but something was healed along the way.”
The hot-blooded breakup anthems you know and love are still there (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” are two), but the new, full collection paints an even richer portrait of heartbreak. She wrestles with change on “Nothing New,” an alt-rock duet with Phoebe Bridgers; contemplates fate on a wistful pop song produced by Max Martin and Shellback (“Message in a Bottle”); and gets the final, piercing word on “I Bet You Think About Me” featuring Chris Stapleton, penned after a high-profile breakup in 2011. Longtime fans will be especially glad to see an extended cut of “All Too Well,” the project’s emotional centrepiece. It features new production from hitmaker Jack Antonoff, but Swift’s original lyrical genius is still remarkable. “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise/So casually cruel in the name of being honest,” she sings. It’s the line she’s always said she’s most proud of from this album and era. Ten years on, it still cuts deep.