“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” better depicts the country artist’s musical identity

13 years later Swift reclaims her breakout album in this recent re-recording


Image Cred. Getty Images

Isabel Guilmette, Writer

Taylor Swift has released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” the first in a series of re-recordings of her albums done in an effort to reclaim the masters to those albums.

Swift’s release of this first re-recording comes after two years of legal issues with her former label, Big Machine Records, whose sale of their company also meant the sale of Swift’s masters, or final recordings and merchandising rights, of her first six albums.

Along with the album serving as Swift’s commercial and mainstream breakthrough, “Fearless” was her first album from a recording label. This followed the comparatively lukewarm reception from her 2006 debut album, “Taylor Swift.”

Paired with a complete re-recording of the initial 20 tracks from the deluxe edition of “Fearless,” Swift has also included six previously unreleased tracks from “The Vault,” which were scrapped from the initial release. 

These six tracks are more of what you might expect from an unreleased 2008 Swift album; love songs with a tinge of Swift’s own brand of feminine country music, although now they sound as though they could have been bonus tracks off of one of her 2020 LPs, where she dips into the indie singer-songwriter feel.

The original 20 tracks are more or less not worth going over individually. Swift’s intent of re-recording the album was to own near-identical masters of her initial work, and that goal was pretty successfully achieved. 

There’s something about “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” that stands out in a big way simply because it doesn’t try to reinvent itself. Sure, there are things that diverge from the original album, most notably the backing vocals performed by Swift and the now 31-year-old’s voice reached a stronger sense of stability and maturity. 

But these differences stand not to make something new out of “Fearless.”  Instead, they give the sound a quiet undertone of an older Swift looking back fondly at her younger self. 

Swift doesn’t shy away from the aesthetic and thoughts of girlhood on “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” instead, her re-creation of these tracks stands to honor and reclaim those feelings from 2008.

There’s a point in Swift’s 2020 documentary, “Ms. Americana,” a documentary in which she was unable to use much of her older discography because of the ongoing master’s dispute, where she describes her struggles as a woman in the entertainment industry, especially in terms of female musicians. She addresses how women worry about reinventing themselves, over and over again, whether that be in style, or look, or in one’s very own purpose as an artist, in an effort to stay relevant or interesting, and how this phenomenon is nothing new for them.

Swift is no stranger to this. Her change over time from youthful country sweetheart, to pop’s favorite it-girl, to vindictive, dramatized villain to rustic pop veteran over the course of her 15-year career, is well documented through the seemingly endless slew of content she’s produced in that time. 

For that reason, now feels like the best time for Swift to step back from her recent trend of revisiting her old work, especially works like “Fearless,” an album that launched the then 18-year-old country artist into the pop star and commercial success we know today.

While “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” does nothing ambitious or new, sonically or conceptually, it’s an important look back at Swift as a younger person and an even more important reclamation of her own narrative and personhood.

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is available on all streaming platforms as of April 9, 2021.

Email Isabel @[email protected] or follow her on Twitter @fibiotibula

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