“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is good for the soul and good for Taylor

The re-recording of Taylor Swift’s 2012 album “Red” is a reclamation effort that has succeeded along with new tracks and an extended version of “All Too Well.”

By Benjamin Royer, Valley Life Editor

"Red (Taylor's Version)," released earlier this month, reiterates the talent heard on the original 2012 album. (Graphic Illustration by Natalie Metcalf/The Valley Star)

Taylor Swift leaps directly into the deep end with a 30-track album, embracing the creation of her original album “Red,” but this time, “Taylor’s Version” has cultivated a new and modern listen.

Released seven months prior, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” started Taylor Swift’s journey to claim each album as her own. Now, released on Nov. 12, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second of six new album recordings that the 11-time Grammy Awards winner will record over the next few years. After mega-producer Scooter Braun sold the master rights to Swift's first six albums for $300 million in November 2020, Swift reintroduced her records with her own sound. Recreating all of her original tracks from scratch, she uses today’s techniques to generate a cleaner sound. With songs such as “All Too Well (10 minute version),” "Treacherous" and From The Vault track “I Bet You Think About Me" shining on the album, Swift goes back to her country roots with more passion behind her voice than ever before.

The production value on the album can be heard with every track’s nuance compared to the prior version. The mix of Swift’s crisp vocals can be heard on the opener, "State of Grace" - which takes lyrics such as, “This is a state of grace/This is the worthwhile fight/Love is a ruthless game/Unless you play it good and right” to a grander level with annunciation beyond key in the crafting of the song.

The use of “Bleachers” Jack Antonoff and “Big Red Machine’s” Aaron Dessner production skills were ever evident in the “From The Vault” tracks. Dessner’s soft folk sound was powerful on “Better Man,” while Antonoff’s connection with Swift helped elevate the original version of “All Too Well” to the closing and prolonged "All Too Well (10 minute version)" version.

On the 10 minute track, which prolongs the story that Swift set in the previous five-minute rendition, “All Too Well” grows stronger with some of pop artist’s legendary lyricism. The addition of “You kept me like a secret/But I kept you like an oath” may be one of her most thought-provoking lyrics and a combo guarantees self-proclaimed “Swifties” will talk about it for months on end. Not to mention, the short film starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink that was released alongside the album. The story-filled video was a creative piece of art considering neither O’Brien nor Sink said a single word.

All the good, however, comes with some mediocre changes. In an attempt to make her six-time platinum single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" improved, the value of the track regressed, making it possibly the worst on the album. In the chorus, the “we” of “We are never ever, ever getting back together” turned into distracting, high and comedic noise instead of remaining a strong part of the catchy chorus.

The aforementioned distraction was the only blip on the record, which was a pleasant revelation considering Swift was reimagining a multitude of songs. The rest of the tracks provided beautifully finished moments such as “Treacherous” and the lyrics “This hope is treacherous/This daydream is dangerous.” The addition of “Ronan” - a song based on the blog of a mother who lost her 3-year-old son was an emotional track that can tug at the heart of any listener. Swift received permission to record the track for the new album and it prospers with tear-jerking words attached to gentle backing music.

Swift now owning this record makes it tough to tear down something she is proud of. Taking an album from nine years prior and formulating it on her own takes courage and will stand the test of time. Attaching nine new tracks to the album is refreshing and modernizes the songs instead of it being a rehash of her older early 2010’s sound.

To enjoy what Swift has released, there is not a need to be a fan, but any casual music listener can appreciate what she set out to accomplish.

While the album does not feature a full slate of new tunes, Swift reached out and confirmed what was already known: “Red” is a masterpiece.