Album Reviews

Taylor Swift – Red – Taylor’s Version Album Review. Songs from The Vault and that All Important 10 Minute Version of All Too Well

Red is one of Taylor Swift’s finest, honest, breathtakingly beautiful and most emotional masterpieces.

It is genius in both its melodies and lyrics and there really is no other album like it!

Awaiting Red Taylor’s Version (released via Republic Records) had been eagerly anticipated by fans since the day she announced she would re-record all her albums originally released under Big Machine Label Group. Fans, artists and other industry folk have supported her owning her masters and we are delighted that soon, when all the albums are done she can own her own work. These songs are years if hard work so it’s only right she owns them. We know that it isn’t unusual for labels to own masters of artists and that it has been that way for years but maybe it’s time for a change?

Back to the music…

State of Grace is the perfect opening to the album and I remember hearing it for the first time knowing then that the whole album was going to be a treat. As I wasn’t originally a fan of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, State of Grace really won me back! The song was even the opening for her epic Red Tour which still remains one of the best live shows I have ever been too.

Taylor’s Versions don’t differ too much from the originals and purposefully so. With the idea of replacing the original albums after not being granted her masters, the songs had to be pretty close. The only real difference is that her voice is more mature and a lot more polished. Whilst every new version sounds superb, I do prefer the innocence and vulnerability in her voice in the original of some songs such as Treacherous, All Too Well and The Moment I Knew and the fresh anger and frustration in I Knew You Were Trouble as you can really feel her raw emotion. But Taylor’s vocals are so strong now that despite missing the raw emotion in the songs I also completely adore the new versions. The collaborations with Gary Lightbody (The Last Time) and Everything Has Changed with Ed Sheeran are just as special as before but made even better with the maturer vocals. Holy Ground and Stay Stay Stay are just as fun and addictive with Holy Ground still remaining a firm favourite of ours.

There are no bad new versions of any of these songs, I think that would be pretty hard to do unless she changed them completely. We have been so excited for this album and it does not disappoint and as I said above fans have been talking about this daily since she announced the re records.

Red Tour – London, UK. Photo Credit: Hannah Compton

One of the first things of course that fans also excitedly said was “Will we finally get to hear the 10 minute version of All Too Well?” A version repeatedly denied by Swift, Rose (Liz) and others.

Of course it existed and of course it was going to be included on the album – Taylor knows what the fans want and she always delivers. The ten minute version as you would probably believe is even more gut wrenching and even more stunning than the original and will have you in tears with its additional verses and bridges. Part of me thinks that song length aside, I understand why they edited the song to what they did on the original release. As painfully beautiful as those additional bridges and verses are they do take something away from the already perfect original but maybe that’s just because I know that version all too well? The other part of me thinks that every part of this is just unbelievably amazing and I can’t believe we have been without those all too important lyrics for so long!!! Especially the last verse! It really is powerful and somewhat cinematic with a very live music stadium filled feel to it. Imagine hearing that live and the impact that final verse will have? We are so glad to have both versions and it is so sad to hear the lyrics in a much deeper tone including words of her dad saying turning 21 is supposed to be fun and those words of being let down on her birthday really make a strong connection between the songs All Too Well and The Moment I Knew. One of the bridges reminds me a little of Betty sonically.

Red Tour – London, UK. Photo Credit: Hannah Compton

As Taylor has done with Fearless, she has added unreleased tracks from the Red era. Swifties had already heard Ronan, a heartbreaking song that Taylor wrote for a little boy called Ronan and released it as a charity single. The songs lyrics are based on a blog by Maya Thompson about her three year old son whom sadly passed of a disease called Neuroblastoma. The song included quotes from the blog by Maya and Maya was credited as co-writer on the song. Proceeds of the song went to a cancer charity. It, as one would imagine is such a sad sad song and the quotes by Maya really have an impact as you know it is real.

Better Man is a song we of course all know as Taylor gave it to Little Big Town. Vocal harmonies to die for, Little Big Town more than gave this song justice. We Swifties of course wanted to hear Taylor’s Version though and she knew that so we now have it! We hear the original backing vocals from The Agency members Caitlin Evanson and Liz Huett whom we have all missed so much. It is a beautiful version and is always nice to hear a song in its original form by its writer. It doesn’t differ too much from the LBT version and I can’t pick a favourite.

Nothing New is another unreleased tune featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Sonically and lyrically beautiful both Swifts and Bridgers vocals blend beautifully together making this a stunning duet that is rather hypnotic.

Babe was another track Taylor gave away to then label mates Sugarland. Taylor remained part of the song as additional vocals and was a main feature in their music video for the single. Sugarland’s version is fantastic but Jennifer Nettles has such a distinctive and strong voice that it is almost a completely different song. Taylor’s Version is of course gorgeous and emotive and again, always good to hear the original. I do understand why it never made the Red album originally and why it was given to Sugarland as I think it really suits Sugarland and they did a masterful job with it.

Message In a Bottle also from the vault sort of jumps off course in a way as it is quite far removed from the theme of the rest of the album sonically. A real poptastic song that’s completely fun lovin’ in its melody and up beat vocals, it’s a song that will grow on me I think. It sounds like a song that was meant to be written for a film. If it is and people know that already, please let us know! We did look it up but found nothing. This song despite being a grower would be epic in a live setting.

I Bet You Think About Me (Featuring Chris Stapleton) has a beautiful Country Folk feel to it and the melody is addictive to listen to. Again, it doesn’t fit within the original Red tracklisting but she probably never intended it to be on the album anyway. This track was co-written with Lori McKenna whom we adore, who in country music doesn’t adore Lori?

Red Tour – London, UK. Photo Credit: Hannah Compton

Forever Winter – has a bit of a Fearless era feel to it and at times sounds a bit like Superstar.

Run – features Ed Sheeran and is also co-written with Sheeran. Everything Has Changed was the song that made it to the original album but this is just as nice and as sweet to listen to. The pair write well together and aways produce such stunningly ambient and emotive songs.

The Very First Night – another track that will likely grow on me. Very poppy and less mature than the rest of the album but it is still a fun song!

What Taylor has done with this version is made it even more relevant than it already was. It is without a doubt a timeless classic made better with more mature tones and the journey to Red Taylor’s Version was something Swifties and Taylor in some way took together.

Taylor really writes from the heart and Red is possibly one of the most heart breakingly beautiful albums out there. It is somewhat painful to listen to as her lyrics really speak to so many people’s experiences. Red connects the fans and Taylor like no other album. Younger fans have likely since experienced some of these feelings since Red’s original release and hear the songs in a whole different light now and fans who had experienced similar feelings have felt them resurface today. But all fans have certainly felt that buzz we did the first time we ever heard Red and that feeling is like no other!

Taylor brought in friends and long time collaborators and others to help produce the album to the high standard that it is. Collaborators include;

We can’t get enough of this album.

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