Still burning red: Revisiting the spectrum of emotions with Red (Taylor’s Version)
Red (Taylor’s Version) comes with a spectrum of familiar emotions that we know all too well. As the second of Taylor Swift’s re-recorded albums takes a step closer in regaining financial and legal control of her song catalog, Swift describes the 30-track re-recorded album as a “fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end” in her announcement on Twitter in June.
From the magnetic and seemingly invincible feeling of being in love to the devastating heartbreaks, Red (Taylor’s Version) explores familiar and new grounds with songs that we have come to love, and the ones we get to hear for the first time with the unreleased “From The Vault” tracks.
The first crack in the glass
Red (Taylor’s Version) offers a deep dive into nostalgia as Swift highlights a burning red perspective and narration on love and heartbreak. Looking back on its first release, her fourth studio album Red served as a turning point for Swift after she broke out of her country roots and started to blend in some mainstream pop elements.
Scattered along the tracklist are songs that strays away from her country music realm. Aside from her famous pop-influenced singles like 22 and I Knew You Were Trouble, songs like the drumbeat-heavy Holy Ground and the twinkling sound of Starlight are few examples that showcases how she can also embrace mainstream pop.
Some additions to the re-recorded album also reflect the crack in the glass of familiarity, like the vault track about a hesitant confession of love, Message In A Bottle – the first song she wrote with hit making producers Max Martin and Shellback, which marks another monumental move for Swift as she started to push past the familiar.
The breaking point
Throughout her career, critics doubted Swift’s music and artistry, labeling her as a singer-songwriter who’s only capable of writing songs about love and her ex-lovers. But contrary to these popular beliefs, Red stands as Swift’s sole and true breakup album, with these songs described as “musically and lyrically resembling a heartbroken person.”
Turning these doubts into phenomenal breakthroughs, Swift’s move to re-record her first five albums serves as a step to hold power and take control of her own narrative, one song at a time. Throughout the years, the 31 years old artist goes beyond the image of being a lovestruck teenager and a typical heartbreak songstress, as her craft has always touched on the complexities and depth of her emotions – making these narratives even more powerful especially as we experience the albums a second time around.
Amid the breaking point, she proves a reconciliation of her past and her present music through her re-recorded and even more hard hitting songs, or as Swift dubs it, the Taylor’s Version.
Despite being centered on the aftermath of devastating heartbreak, Red (Taylor’s Version) also introduced songs from the vault that sheds light on the reality of moving forward and the struggles of picking yourself back up. Red (Taylor’s Version) also makes a point of “the reeling” on who we once were before we arrived to where we are today.
With re-recording of songs like the fan-favorite All Too Well that lingers on the feeling of a breaking heart, Red (Taylor’s Version) also offers something new that follows the same light such as the highly-anticipated vault track All Too Well (10 Minute Version), as if the already-personal original version cannot get more personal.
Following the same tune, another vault track of the album, The Very First Night, backed by the sound that resembles twinkling lights delivers lyrics of wanting to go back to the start and turn back time to when things still felt magical. Similarly, the vault track Run featuring Ed Sheeran also brings back the feeling of running away and escaping from everything.
Red (Taylor’s Version) may be looking back at the past with a different perspective, but the fire remains burning as the songs still hold a special place in people’s hearts. Even just for a while, the songs take us back to the time where different emotions were deeply felt, as the re-recorded versions of Red, Everything Has Changed, and All Too Well depicts the good and the bad that comes with falling in love.
Nine years gone, Red (Taylor’s Version) takes us back to remember what once was and see the past differently. Hearing Swift singing these songs in her mature voice that have gone through some years of experience and life lessons along the way feels reminiscent of treading and retracing the once familiar path again.
It is undeniable that hearing these songs once again still hits close to home, even with the subtle changes and additions with some of the vault tracks like Nothing New and I Bet You Think About Me, reflecting the vulnerability that is still reminiscent of Swift’s trademark songwriting that takes inspiration from her own life. What was once heartbreaking has turned into something new that binds together familiar feelings that we have grown from.
As Swift takes us down the memory lane in all its good and bad, we also get to see how we can rebuild something new on top of the old. Even though some of her songs can bring us back to a time that we would rather forget, Red (Taylor’s Version) also reminded us how her songs became a companion for many people throughout the ever-confusing road of growing up.