On Friday 12th November, Taylor Swift released an updated version of her ‘Red’ album (released in 2012), entitled ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’. In addition to re-recording all of the original songs on both her standard and deluxe editions of ‘Red’, Swift released a series of new songs ‘From the Vault’, that had not previously been included on the album. Hannah Walton-Hughes, an ardent Taylor Swift fan, discusses the differences and similarities compared to the original.
After a wonderful re-recording of ‘Fearless’, we were all waiting with bated breath for Taylor Swift’s next updated album. On the most part, I think it’s fair to say that it was worth the wait. This album saw versions of Swift’s songs that included more prominent harmonies, greater continuity between lines of lyrics, a more echoey chorus, and slightly softer melodies and tones all round. Plus, Swift’s new additions to the album deal with a number of important themes: the tragedy of young death, the loss of fame, and mental health.
The album begins with the brooding tune State of Grace. Swift surprises her listeners by creating dissonance from the start, and deliberately sharpening and flattening certain notes throughout her musings on a past love.
Treacherous, however, is significantly improved, with clearer lyrics and a more harmonic and sensual chorus
Aside from a few extra gaps and added breaths, the signature song of the album, Red itself, is not massively different from the original. Treacherous, however, is significantly improved, with clearer lyrics and a more harmonic and sensual chorus, which fits better with the song’s suggestive tone. This is not the only place in which lyrics are clearer; in ‘22’, I was finally able to hear the line, ‘who’s Taylor Swift anyway?’, interjected in the second chorus- it had taken me a long time to work out on the original album!
Whilst there are a number of changes to the songs, there are a few that, disappointingly, could have simply been copied and pasted from the original album. Stay Stay Stay, Sad Beautiful Tragic and Holy Ground really could have done with a stronger adaptation. Other than a quieter start for Holy Ground, it didn’t really feel like Swift tried very hard to distinguish these songs from the originals.
I have mixed feelings about the new songs that Swift added to the album. My favourite, by far, is Message in a Bottle. I loved how it catches you off-guard by changing speed at unexpected places. The pace of the music is further manipulated in The Very First Time; it illustrates perfectly the fast-paced love that Swift was experiencing, which ended as abruptly as the song.
Ronan is heartbreaking, with its very simple and childlike melody. The theme of loss is so prominent throughout, and it is the sort of song that makes you feel a bit of its pain yourself. Similarly, Forever Winter is very touching, and whilst it deals with the struggles of mental health, its ending is extremely encouraging.
Nicely-done integration of extra lyrics gives us more insight into the love story
A good point about the hefty, ten-minute long version of All Too Well is that it has a significantly deeper meaning than before; its aggressive syncopation references the concept of patriarchy, and the nicely-done integration of extra lyrics gives us more insight into the love story. However, by the end, I was losing the will to listen; the song seems to drag on and on, with no apparent end.
Overall, Swift does a good job at revamping her classic tracks, but I would still return to her original album any day. You can certainly tell the maturity and increased strength in her voice, but some of the song changes seem a little forced and unnecessary. Her new tracks are very good however, and this is an album that I would recommend you listen to once. Then you can return to more familiar ground, Taylor Swift-wise.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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