“I found time can heal most anything, and you just might find who you’re supposed to be,” Taylor Swift sings in the second track of her rerecorded second album, “Fearless.” The line rings as true now for Swift as it did in 2008, and maybe even more so for her now adult fans who were barely 10 years old the first time they ever heard the Swift described “whimsical, effervescent, chaotic” album.
Swift’s venture into rerecording her early albums came not even two years ago after a heartbreaking contract dispute for Swift and her fans in which she lost the rights to everything she recorded with her previous label Big Machine Records. The dispute sparked a movement among fans who coined #IStandWithTaylor, demonstrating the kind of aggressive loyalty that can only be achieved by people who grew up alongside the 31-year-old singer.
It wouldn’t be hard to see this as a purely calculated revenge move against Scooter Braun and CEO of Big Machine Record Scott Borchetta. The same fierce loyalty that created a Twitter movement could and probably will, translate to a dramatic drop in listeners for the version of “Fearless” not owned by Swift. For her, however, this reproduction has become not only a labor of love, but a way for her to fully appreciate the Grammy-winning album that produced hits like “You Belong With Me” that have and will continue to transcend generations of fans.
The album is almost a carbon copy of its 2008 version, Swift masterfully copied each note and pronunciation. Nevertheless, over 10 years later her voice has improved noticeably. Swift’s tone is deeper and richer and the twang of a 16-year-old in Nashville, Tennessee, just can’t quite be replicated.
“Fifteen” hits just as hard as it did in 2008. There is something so heartbreaking about the candidness of knowing absolutely nothing and trying to be someone in spite of that. “In your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team,” Swift sings in a way that’s painful even well into your 20s, as it’s easy to underestimate yourself at any age.
There’s something that feels deeply personal when listening to “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” For the past four years Swift has been in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Joe Alwyn and the result has been beautiful, melodic love songs and break-up songs written about fictional characters.
Take “Exile” on Swift’s second most recent album “Folklore,” a haunting duet between Swift and Bon Iver that details the pain of looking in on a relationship that’s ended like you’re watching the end of a bad movie. “I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending.” This kind of knowingness is what’s missing from early songs like “White Horse,” the kind of naivete you only find in youthful heartbreak that somehow hurts even worse. “Stupid girl, I should’ve known, I should’ve known.” Fans can’t help but feel a deeper connection to Swift as they listen in on some of the most intimate moments of her life.
In addition to her full Fearless deluxe album, Swift included half a dozen songs “from the vault,” that didn’t make the cut the first time around but are now reworked with the incredible musical stylings of Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is the perfect early Swiftian track. It’s reminiscent of “Tell Me Why,” in which the song is so upbeat you don’t even realize you’re listening to a break-up song until the lyrics cut right to bone. “And I never got past what you put me through, but it’s wonderful to see that it never fazed you.”
Perhaps the most fulfilling part of getting to experience these songs all over again is seeing how far Swift has come since. “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is suspected to be about Joe Jonas whom Swift was dating at the time. In her song “Invisible String” on recent album “Folklore,” Swift addresses her past singing, “Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart, now I send their babies presents.” This is referencing Jonas and actress Sophie Turner who are married and just had a baby. Swift sent them a hand sewn blanket and a handwritten note. Turner, in turn, posted “Mr. Perfectly Fine” on Instagram captioning it, “It’s not NOT a bop.”
For a whole generation of “Swifties” navigating adulthood, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” means more than ever. For a whole new generation of 10-year-old’s, they’ve just found the soundtrack to the rest of their adolescence.
“Mr. Perfectly Fine”
“The Other Side Of The Door”
“The Way I Loved You”