I always want to tell people who don’t know Taylor Swift’s discography that every album of hers is essential.
Her debut is perfect country-twang. “Speak Now” is one of the most well-written albums I’ve ever heard. “Red” balances dubstep, rock, pop and country. “1989” is vibrant, unforgettable synth-pop. “Reputation” appears brash, but the lyrics are thoughtful, not trivial. “Lover” is, as Taylor says, a “love letter to love itself” in all its forms, and she delivers. And her 2020 sister albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” are dreamy adventures in storytelling and escapism.
As many know, Swift is re-recording her first six albums so she can own the master copies. So, not only will fans relish in the fact that she will own the music she wrote, we get to walk down memory lane with her.
And we’re beginning with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).”
All of her albums are jam-packed with gems. “Fearless,” though, is special. It isn’t necessarily her best work, but it conveys a comforting feeling that I’ll always experience when I hear it.
That’s why I would tell someone that if they could only listen to one Swift album, they should give “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” a try. Or at the very least, they should start their Swift musical journey with it.
We still don’t know why Swift chose to release this one first. I have some ideas, sure: it’s been 13 years since its release, and that’s her favorite number; it has lots of classic hits, such as “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” and it won Album of the Year at the 52nd Grammys in 2010.
But I think it’s just because the album speaks for itself. If you take a listen, and I mean an honest listen, where you’re just staring at your bedroom ceiling, doing nothing, you’ll understand that.
From start to finish, it’s mesmerizing. She opens with the title track, “Fearless,” a gorgeously rocking country song. She expertly balances the middle with upbeat songs such as “The Way I Loved You” and “Forever & Always” and slower songs like “White Horse” and “You’re Not Sorry.” To wrap it up, she provides her first real attempt at an anthem, “Change.” It predates her future anthems like “Shake It Off” and “You Need To Calm Down,” and it goes especially hard with soaring guitars and drums in the final minute.
As a Swiftie, I know almost every lyric, guitar lick and drum beat of the original recordings. So, yeah, I did notice that while her voice has become more mature and utterly beautiful, I miss the breathy, nasally tone she had in her original tunes.
But that won’t stop me from listening to this version from now on. The awe-inspiring sounds and themes of growing up that Taylor captured 13 years ago remains. Even with the little differences, her stunning ability to throw me back to the first time I heard “Fearless” honestly made me emotional. I remember listening to my sister’s CD of “Fearless” in our room when we were little, and even though my sister isn’t as big a Swiftie as I am, she used to be, and this album serves as a reminder of that period of time.
I grew up with Swift, just like so many people have. I think many people will know what I mean when I say that being consumed by “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” reminded me of times throughout my life when I felt stuff like the things Swift sings about early in her career – high school, catching the attention of someone you like – was all that mattered.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned there’s a bigger world outside my own little world of school problems, crushes and growing pains.
But taking a moment to fall back to the emotions Taylor articulated in 2008 made the world feel a little smaller again. For a moment in time while listening to the new version in the wee hours of April 9, life made a little more sense again.
Because in a giant, horrific world, knowing that someone else feels the daily pains of life, too – like growing up, heartbreak and rocky relationships – makes it all a bit more bearable.