The reasons why she is intending to rerecord her back catalog have been extensively explored, but one question remains - is it noticeably different from the first iteration that hit record stands in 2008?
Taylor Swift’s music now is world’s away from her early stylings; earnest teeny bops that were so unapologetically girly, wise and sisterly. She wrote like she was the girl next door, widely different from what followed - a change notably parodied in her fifth album Reputation’s lead single Look What You Made Me Do with the much memed line “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone? Why? Oh, she’s dead.”
My life has been punctuated by Taylor Swift eras but nothing shakes the legacy of Fearless, an album I’ve listened to over and over again, pouring over each lyric, deciding which song matched my mood, situation or whatever melodrama I felt was unique to only me and Taylor as I thumbed though, decoding the messages she left.
Without a doubt, it is the definitive album of my teenage years. It might not be my favourite of her albums, an answer that is mood dependent, but it is without the doubt the most important, a desert island for sure.
Swift was a baby then, a mere 18 years old, and now she, like all of us, has gone through a lot since the 13 years since, such as a very long and public spat with Kanye West, a landmark sexual assault case and many more albums since - of different genres, tones and moods.
The intention in re-recording it was to give her power back over her masters, to allow her fans to stream it without supporting the people who purchased it right under her nose, to stay the same. However, as nothing stays the same, there are subtle differences, and I am just the gal point them out to you
Here are some of differences you might missed.
Her voice is improved
Back in the earlier years of her career, Taylor was often critiqued for her singing voice, but I’m not really referring to that, but its definitely got a richer quality to it, like she’s started bathing her throat in honey or whatever tricks vocalists use.
It’s not like Joni Mitchell’s reimagining of Both Sides Now where she’s clearly smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, but you know, it has matured, which makes sense but it feels like the most. This is most noticeable in songs You Belong With Me, You’re Not Sorry .
The guitar playing feels more delicate
In the 2008 version, the guitar feels more country, whatever that means, but in the 2021 version it sounds smoother. It’s less jingly and feels smoother, slowed down. Perhaps, its the influence of her eighth album Folklore, arguably the only good thing to come out 2020 but each strum comes across mindful compared to the 2008 version.
She’s really got real wisdom to give to her teenage self
When you are 18, you look at what you said and did at 15 and really feel they are world’s apart, a sensation that Swift’s song Fifteen cashes in on. The 2021 version it feels even more poignant, like she’s looking back at a time when she was not one of world’s biggest pop stars, and rather normal teen girl still in high school.
It comes across a thoughtful lament, rather than a letter to a woman who once had her heartbroken. The line “In your life, you’ll do things greater things that date the boy on the football team” holds an greater power when the list is an endless one, like Swift’s.
The faux Southern accent is mostly gone.
An anecdote that used to be regularly touted out in interviews and documentaries are that Taylor convinced her parents to move from their Christmas tree farm in rural Pennsylvania to Nashville, the base of the country music industry.
Some falsely believe she grew up in Tennessee, which is silly if hear her talk, but if you only heard her sing, you’d be forgiven, given she often laid it on thick. In hindsight, opting for an accent you don’t have is a bit gauche but even Dolly Parton created an alter ego to hit the big time, so understandable.
It lingers in Hey Stephen but it vanishes other songs, such as Tell Me Why and Fearless, while it being less fun to sing along with, it makes the music feel more versatile, without being less distinctive.
She seems to have processed the emotions
Every self respecting Swifty knows the story surrounding Forever & Always, arguably one of the angriest songs on the album. Joe Jonas broke up with her during a 27 second phone call, and she desperately penned the song, and the rage radiates out of every line, as you would expect. However, it was a mad dash to get the song included before its initial release, time hadn’t done its healing.
Since the nearly decade and a half later, both parties have moved on. Jonas with Game of Throne’s Sophie Turner and Swift with Joe Alwyn, her sometime lyrical partner. Everyone seems like they are now friends, which is both great and a bit weird, but not my business!
White Horse, a song so iconic it had Stephen Colletti of Laguna Beach fame play her love interest in the music video, which is whole essay in itself, seems to have been given heightened drama but an increased presence of a thumping beat. I don’t mean it’s been remixed into a techno song, but rather ever so slightly.