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  • ruby crowhurst



Taking an already beloved album and making it better is no mean feat, and for any other artist, it would be difficult to live up to the challenge. But Taylor Swift, the music-making phenomenon, has managed it for the second time in one year; with RED (Taylor's Version).

Although RED was very present in the emotions that it was created in the midst of over the course of 2011 and 2012, it also had reminiscence flowing through its veins even at the point it was released. A significant number of the songs on the album are about looking back on relationships and key moments in a young woman's life, which means its transition to an album released 7 years later is pretty easy. Swift is still looking back, but with a much wiser and older view on the relationships and situations that occurred, which then goes to make RED (Taylor's Version) the older and wiser version of the original release.

The album shines most in its ballads, with the poppier songs being least close to the originals, which can be understood as they're the most layers of production that they need to get right. This slight mismatch with the creation of the pop tracks is, quite frankly, the only minor reason this album hasn't been given a perfect score.

Of course, the stars of the show were All Too Well and All Too Well (10 minute version), the longer version which fans have been begging for since it was mentioned years ago.

All Too Well has always been a masterpiece telling the story of a relationship that left Swift 'crumpled up like a piece of paper', and the re-recording didn't change that, other than featuring more poised vocals and perhaps less of the genuine sadness and anger from the original recording. However, the 10-minute version is where we saw this sadness and anger remerge and it's clear they were pointed at one very specific person who broke a young Swift's heart back in 2011. Swift holds back no punches, and although some lines feel a bit disjointed (I'm looking at you, "fuck the patriarchy keychain"), they certainly get the point across she wanted to: the antagonist of the song was putting a much younger vulnerable woman through absolute emotional turmoil and calling it a relationship. Swift not only calls out her age gap with the antagonist, but the age gap he continues to have with his lovers, and although this lyric was written in 2012, the fact it still applies now must make Swift feel very smug as, as per usual, she continues to be ahead of the game even when it comes to predicting the futures of her ex-boyfriends. The metaphors seem to disappear, and 'All Too Well' joins 'Dear John' in the club of 'how do the men these songs are focused on even sleep at night?' club.

However, it's the songs that focus on Swift's self rather than her relationships that feel the most right being re/recorded for RED (Taylor's Version). 'The Lucky One' seems to have predicted Swift's move away from the bright limelight and into private and settled life, and there are brand new emotions mustered up through the songs when you realise that it only got worse after this song was released before it got better.

Then there's the brand new vault song with Phoebe Bridgers 'Nothing New' which takes on the concept of being confused about where life is headed in your 20s. There's something about this song that feels much closer to the musings of evermore and folklore, but simultaneously sums up RED as a whole, which shows that maybe Swift hasn't moved as far from her 2012-self.

As a summary, RED (Taylor's Version) is a near-perfect example of exactly how to re-release an album. Songs have changed meanings, and perhaps the emotions aren't as deep anymore, but this new version embraces the beauty of reminiscence in a way that lifts it to a new level, which will hopefully finally give RED the Grammy it deserves.


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