2020 has undoubtedly been Taylor Swift’s year, with her release of the critically acclaimed albums ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ cementing her status as one of the most prominent and versatile musicians of the 21st century – and it looks as though Swift’s 2021 is shaping up to be even better. The American singer-songwriter has gone from strength to strength since the release of her self-titled debut album in 2006, and her recent announcement that she will be re-recording all of her old work has thrilled both fans and critics alike. Swift’s motivations for re-recording are primarily due to the sale of her master tapes (without her consent) to businessman Scooter Braun upon his purchase of her former label, Big Machine Records. Her titling of the new single as ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version) is symbolic, as it shows that it is truly hers. The levels of excitement seen amongst fans for the new releases are a testament to Swift’s ever-increasing popularity and demonstrates the love that many hold for her older work, as the tracks conjure up a sense of nostalgia amongst a generation that has grown up alongside Swift, loving her music and finding comfort in her relatable lyrics.
Swift’s re-recording is absolutely sublime, showcasing the same lyrics and sound that made it a modern classic with an added sense of maturity. Her thoughtful inclusion of original performers such as Caitlin Bird, who provided guitar and violin parts, is a subtle yet appreciated reminder of the original song and highlights Swift’s attention to detail in everything she produces. The song also demonstrates the development of Swift’s musical ability, with her voice sounding rounder and fuller, and her enunciation greatly improved. The biggest difference, however, is the production. Everything sounds clearer, with more separation between the instruments. This allows the listener to discover details that were perhaps drowned out in the original recording, such as the delicate plucking of the banjo strings and the enchanting melody heard on the violin.
Nonetheless, it is perhaps the significance of the new recording that means the most to both Taylor and her fans. The record is almost a love letter to the 18-year-old Swift who wrote the song in 20 minutes on her bedroom floor. The vivid imagery and intricate narration found in Swift’s writing can still be seen in her work today, illustrating just how talented Swift is. Taylor has become the Romeo she is singing about and has saved herself. This is evident in the record’s cover, as she dons a shirt similar to that worn by the character of Romeo (played by Justin Gaston) in the single’s original music video. Swift has labelled the track as a love letter to her fans and supporters, whom she has previously described as providing her with ‘the longest and best relationship she’s ever had’, and this is echoed by the pictures of Swift with her fans in the official lyric video for the new song.
So what next for Taylor? With the re-recording of Fearless confirmed for release on the 9th of April, including 6 previously unheard songs written when Swift was between the ages of 13 and 16, fans have a lot to look forward to. Many are eagerly anticipating listening to the tracks of their adolescence from a fresh, matured perspective, and being able to listen to Swift’s impressive catalogue knowing that the music belongs to her. But for now, we can continue to enjoy every second of Taylor’s work, both new and old, and look forward to the abundance of original music that she will no doubt gift to us over the next few years.
Image: Sanwal Deen on Flickr.