Redder than red
8 December 2021-
Taylor Swift recently released the second re-recording of her early catalog, this time of fourth studio album Red. And it's #1 again. Also, it's great...
In ways, we owe all of this to Scooter Braun. The superstar manager of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato (to name but a few) famously acquired Taylor Swift‘s first record label, Big Machine, back in 2019, in a deal Swift did not much approve of. But couldn’t do much about either: a deal is a deal, a catalog is a catalog. Unless she decided to re-record her own early albums… Guess what: this year, she started doing just that. Following the April release of re-recorded second album Fearless, which received acclaim — and topped the charts — in its own right, now comes her re-recorded fourth album, Red (Taylor’s Version).
And this is not merely a re-recording: first off, it features all the tracks that were included in its deluxe version — 21 in total. Then come new tracks “from the vault” that were meant to be on the original album but couldn’t because, duh, 21 tracks. That gives us a grand total of… 30 tracks. Even Kanye would be impressed, and he has a tense history with Swift. So here we are, with 2 hours and 10 minutes of pristine pop music as written and performed by one of its brightest stars ever. What gives?
In short, that trip down memory lane — via a brand new studio — is one we absolutely don’t mind taking. The obvious takeaway is that Swift’s songwriting skills aged very well indeed: the massive tracks that were “I Knew You Were Trouble” or “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” sound as good today as they ever did. Some tracks even make more sense now: “22”‘s line that goes “I don’t know about you / But I’m feeling 22” takes on an entirely new meaning as the star is now in her 30’s. The production elegantly underlines this phenomenon: basically, you are listening to ever-so-slightly more subtle, better crafted, deeper versions of songs that were great to begin with.
Then you have the new tracks. And Miss Swift doesn’t disappoint here either. First of all, her list of guest features rings as VIP as they get: Ed Sheeran (who was incidentally already featured on the original album), Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton… All interesting partners in (musical) crime for the superstar singer. Special mention goes to the Bridgers duet, “Nothing New”, which, despite its title, does add something new to the mix: the ethereal freshness brought by the young singer comes as a beautiful complement to Swift’s subdued vocals… Then, to finish the LP in style, fans are sent off into the (virtual) sunset with a 10-minute long version of “All Too Well”, which not only became Swift’s eighth #1 single, but also broke the record for longest song ever to do so.
Again, thank you Scooter Braun…