Taylor Swift has had a busy year. After releasing two albums (“Folklore” and “Evermore”), winning album of the year at the Grammys and fighting for artist rights, she has finally rereleased her 2008 “Fearless” album, but this time owning the masters herself.
“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” was released to the public on April 9, signifying that Swift now owns four of her nine albums. The singer has been vocal about her ongoing fight to own the rights to her first six albums after leaving Big Machine Records in 2018, a label she had been with since she was 15 years old. In 2019, Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta sold the company along with Swift’s original masters to Scooter Braun, who Swift called a “manipulative bully,” in a $300 million transaction she claims she was unaware of.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 9, 2021
In November 2020, Swift was able to legally begin rerecording the masters to her first five albums, which would devalue the original ones, giving her both artistic and financial control. Releasing her second album first, those who have been fans since the beginning (many of whom were children at the time) are reexperiencing the album as adults. Being 8 years old at the time of the original release and having lived through much of what I couldn’t fully relate to at the time is a surreal experience.
Perhaps the most unique part of the 26-song album is that those who longed for country music star Taylor Swift to make a reappearance have gotten their wish. Six of the songs on the album were written in 2008 when Swift was 18 and had never made it onto the original “Fearless” album. They fully encapsulate the broken fairytale in which the album’s essence is made up of.
Releasing one day prior to the entire album was “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” which fans have assumed to be about Joe Jonas, who Swift dated briefly in 2008. Her country-style writing shone through this track, with a burning message to a boy who broke her heart, much like many of her other songs from her early works.
“Hello, Mr. Perfectly fine / How’s your heart after breaking mine?” Swift sings.
At least Jonas’ wife, actress Sophie Turner, was unfazed by the song allegedly being about her husband, posting that “it’s not not a bop” to her social media.
Keith Urban, who Swift had toured with in 2009, made an appearance as a feature on “That’s When (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” which also did not make the original cut. Holding a more country-twang musical sound, Swift and Urban’s harmonizing brings the song full circle, telling the story of a breakup in which the two people hope to eventually reconcile.
“That’s when / When I wake up in the morning / That’s when / When it’s sunny or storming / Laughing when I’m crying,” the duo sings in the chorus. “And that’s when / I’ll be waiting at the front gate / That’s when / When I see your face / I’ll let you in / And, baby, that’s when.”
Urban isn’t the only aritst featured on the album. Maren Morris sings background vocals on “You All Over Me (Taylor’s Version),” another song from the vault, meanwhile Colbie Caillat returned to sing background vocals on “Breathe (Taylor’s Version),” a track from the original version of “Fearless.” Swift also brought back original band members, Paul Sidoti, Amos Heller, Mike Meadows and Caitlin Evanson to record on the album.
Having previously stated she wanted to remain loyal to the original way she created “Fearless,” Swift recorded very few differences in her new masters. Keeping the heart and soul of the album intact with the way she sang almost every word, Swift’s voice miraculously sounded exactly the same yet simultaneously more matured. There was a 13-year time difference, after all.
Swift also released lyric videos to each of the songs from “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” including one for “Fifteen (Taylor’s Version),” which includes never-before-seen photos of Swift and her best friend, Abigail Anderson. Believe me, the song hits 10 times harder knowing that they were teenagers when it was first written and since then, Swift has been one of Anderson’s bridesmaids, remaining best friends to this day.
While the new album brings back nostalgic memories for fans, supporting “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is more than supporting the singer. It’s about supporting artists’ rights to own their music. As merely the first of six albums to be rereleased, it’s safe to say that Swift is busy and fans cannot wait to relive the rest of her timeless works.