Almost a decade after its initial release, Taylor delivers a new and improved version of her iconic heartbreak album – and it’s everything that fans could have hoped for.
Red was the album that established her Great Swiftian Songbook, packed out with classics like ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, ‘22’ and ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’. On the re-recording these somehow reach new depths, benefitting from nearly ten years of vocal maturity and retouched production.
The album has always been more than its singles, though, and this time around it’s the B-sides that shine. Encouraged by the success of her Folklore era, songs like ‘Better Man’ and ‘I Bet You Think About Me’ see Taylor lean back into her country roots; more vulnerable production allows her lyricism to shine, and in this sense, she’s on top form. “You can’t help who you fall for / And you and I fell like an early spring snow,” Taylor sings on the latter, with Mr. Superior Thinking replacing Mr. Perfectly Fine on her lyrical dartboard.
If Red is the soundtrack to everyone’s Sad Girl Autumn, it makes total sense that the first female artist to get more than the backing vocals on a Taylor collab is Phoebe Bridgers, queen of main character melancholia. Their voices blend gorgeously on ‘Nothing New’, a song that agonises over the prospect of growing old. “Lord, what will become of me / Once I’ve lost my novelty?” Taylor wonders; ten years on from the album’s initial release, though, it’s evident that her novelty isn’t going anywhere.
If anyone actually had the self-restraint to leave it to the end, ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version)’ is the album’s perfect victory lap. The new lyrics are characteristically devastating – if being broken like a promise wasn’t bad enough, “You kept me like a secret / But I kept you like an oath” demands to be blasted at eighty through car speakers. Again, Taylor’s journey over the past decade can be heard – the line “keychain on the ground” is melodically reminiscent of ‘august’ – but it remains gloriously petty, making age gap references that ‘Dear John’ would be proud of.
This latest re-recording shows Taylor at her best, building on the original with her trademark lyricism and a newfound confidence, swaying between hometown country and stadium pop. It may be a good thing that Spotify Wrapped has stopped collecting its data, because Red (Taylor’s Version) is going to be on repeat for the rest of autumn.
Red (Taylor’s Version) is out now and available to soundtrack all our Sad Girl Autumns on whatever streaming service you use