As someone who made being a Swiftie their entire personality, it’s actually pretty embarrassing for me to admit that I have yet to listen to her first three albums. That being said, I have a soft spot for the ‘Fearless‘ era because it’s actually what introduced me to Taylor Swift. I still remember it vividly, it was 2009 and Disney Channel was showing the ‘You Belong With Me‘ music video. Despite totally falling in love with the song, my idiotic seven-year-old self didn’t bother to check out more of her music after that. The only two songs I had heard from her until the ‘Red‘ era were ‘You Belong With Me‘ and ‘Crazier‘ from the ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie’ soundtrack so that alone should tell you how unfamiliar I was with her music. As she began venturing into pop I became a bigger Swiftie and eventually, I started listening to her pop records. Now she’s essentially become my religion. When I heard about the re-recordings I was a bit nervous because I was so unfamiliar with her country albums but it turns out, it gave me the perfect opportunity to dive deep into this twelve-year-old era and revert to my 2008/2009 self.
Before ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ came out, I decided to listen to the original ‘Fearless‘ and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t connect with it. I didn’t have a bad time but I couldn’t see myself listening to it that often. It had a very ‘preteen girl’ energy to it, I could imagine the glitter and princess costumes. There were a couple of standouts, mainly ‘Forever and Always’, ‘Fearless’, ‘Fifteen’ and ‘Tell Me Why’. Once I sat down to listen to this new version, I was honestly quite nervous. That being said, all of that worry melted away when I pressed play. With each track, I fell in love a bit deeper with this album. I was dumbfounded that this was more or less the same album I didn’t really connect with. ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ not only sounds more mature but the production infuses the country and rock elements in a much more effective way than the original ever did. Out of the twenty-six songs in this collection, I put a heart next to seventeen songs which is a pretty impressive feat. The standard album meaning Track 1 being ‘Fearless‘ and the last track being ‘Change’ is an incredibly energetic and consistent body of work. It might honestly be Swift’s strongest album in that regard. The deluxe tracks are pretty hit or miss, I’ve noticed that after ‘Change‘ ends, I usually skip to ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ then call it a day. They start out pretty strong but then there are tracks like ‘Superstar‘ and ‘Today Was a Fairytale’ which are considerably beneath Swift’s level of talent. When you have an album with such great anthems and statements, the mediocre tracks seem to lose a sense of connectivity. That being said, ‘Untouchable‘ and ‘Come In With The Rain’ are pretty amazing.
That leads us to the opening of the ‘Fearless’ Vault which feels like a small, bonus EP at the end. The songs sound noticeably different than the rest of the album and while the lyrics are still coming from an 18-year old Taylor Swift, the production and vocal delivery are coming from the more experienced Taylor we’ve come to know. Tracks like ‘Don’t You’ and ‘We Were Happy’ sound like they could belong on ‘evermore’. Her voice can suit a lot of different genres but when you compare her more mature vocals with a more mellow production, you strike gold. It’s the reason why ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’ were such huge successes. ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ is the one vault song I can actually imagine being a deluxe track, it’s actually scary to think that we might have never gotten this song. It is too good to keep in a vault. It’s definitely one of my favourites from the entire album and I am eternally grateful that’s it is out for us to experience together! That being said, vault tracks like ‘You All Over Me’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’ definitely feel like extra material. However, the beauty of the re-recordings is that we get to see the process of what was considered to be album material and what felt like excess. The vault songs dig deeper into the story presented in the album and they give Swift the perfect chance to play with her country roots and modernize that sound for what is essentially a new generation of fans listening to this album.
You might think that I just listened to the album and called it a day, right? Nope! Through the last couple of weeks, while I’ve been learning the songs, I’ve been going back to 2008/2009 and experiencing what this era had to offer. I watched every single music video from this era, I watched some of the interviews and skits (2000’s pop culture really was something else) and I even watched the ‘Journey to Fearless’ concert/documentary special. All of this to say that I am a full ‘Fearless‘ stan now. It was genuinely fascinating to see how much Swift has evolved as an artist. When watching her live performances from this era, she carried such a refreshing enthusiasm that you could tell that she was new to the scene. The music videos had the true 2000’s aesthetic and they made me feel nostalgic as hell despite me only having seen the ‘You Belong With Me’ music video. This entire era is the closest thing to a coming-of-age movie I can think of. It has the drama, the romance and the naivete we’ve come to associate with being a teenager or a movie-version of a teen. Taylor Swift’s creative and unique flair is what made her stand out as proven by an album as early as this. ‘Fearless‘ really is a bundle of nostalgic teen romance where every song hits and has some much depth that even a mediocre song from the album is written better than most of the stuff airing on the radio back then or now for that matter. I cannot wait to listen to ‘Speak Now’ and her debut album when they get re-recorded and you bet your ‘Junior Jewels’ t-shirt that I’m going to do this for every re-recording! See you guys for ‘1989’ next!
‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ is now available to stream anywhere now!