By Melissa Domingo
Taylor Swift rereleased her second studio album and renamed it as “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” on April 9, 2021; she originally released the album in 2008. After announcing her plan to re-record six of her albums to take ownership of the masters, she posted a set of photos on her Twitter, stating that “Fearless” was the first album she planned to re-release.
As the news was confirmed, she posted a series of easter eggs on her social media for fans to decode regarding the “From the Vault” tracks she was intending to release alongside the original 20 tracks; this amounted to a total of 26 tracks in the re-released version.
The original 20 songs did not undergo much change, though they are more polished than their original counterparts: the sound quality is better and the instruments sound more lively and clear. The most notable change is Swift’s voice, her voice is deeper, stronger, and has lost its country twang.
The six songs released from Swift’s backlog of tracks show a clearer story of what she was feeling at the time.
“You All Over Me”‘ features Maren Morris and personally, the sound of their voices melding together confused me. It begins with a harmonica and a guitar along with Swift’s vocals singing of a person trying to rid themselves of the memories of a failing relationship, reminiscent of her song “Clean” from “1989.” It wasn’t my favorite track nor was it the worst, it definitely was a starting point for the direction of songwriting she would take in her later years.
The album transitions into “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” my favorite among the “From the Vault” tracks and one of the pre-release singles. It’s a song that passive-aggressively attempts to tell the listener that the singer has gotten over a relationship. The compassionate cries of “Goodbye Mr. Perfectly Fine!” in the chorus accompanied by the upbeat instrumentals are reminiscent of 2008 pop music. I think if she released this song with the first release of the album, it would’ve done well commercially.
The cynically vibrant aura brought by “Mr. Perfectly Fine” comes to a screeching halt as Swift sings “We Were Happy” with Keith Urban as the backing vocals. It’s another song about a failed relationship, which is a very prominent theme in the “Fearless” album. It felt anticlimactic, I was hoping for a bridge or an ending verse that would change the pace of the song, alas neither happened.
“That’s When” is a song that I would’ve thoroughly enjoyed if Swift’s voice was still colored by her country-laden accent. It doesn’t stand out, I have no particular feelings about the track, it plays out as any other Swift song from this era.
Swift sings of an unexpected encounter with a past lover seemingly fine in “Don’t You,” it’s another one of my favorites as it has been given some finetuning by Jack Antonoff. It has the country-pop charm that had made everyone gravitate towards Swift and her music.
The “From the Vault” tracks close with “Bye Bye Baby,” a slower pop song where Swift croons “Bye bye, to everything I thought was on my side.” It’s catchy and a calm way to close the album.
Now that “Fearless” has been more refined, it puts into perspective how much Swift has grown from her fairytale-esque love songs and cries to denounce love and the anguish that comes with it. As someone who generally enjoys her music, I’m excited for the five other re-releases and the accompanying “From the Vault” tracks.
FEATURED IMAGE (at the top of this post): A photo of Taylor Swift at a “Fearless” concert performing on a piano. (PHOTO CREDIT: Taylor Swift)