Red (Taylor’s Version) gives listeners the ideal mix of nostalgia and ambience


Chariti Li

Musician Taylor Swift released her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version), on Nov. 11. The 30 tracks, including 14 new songs, suit anyone looking to wind down, have a cry or dance.

Rida Zar, Opinion Editor

A core memory for many entails jamming out to the latest music releases, giving a soulful performance to a crowd of dedicated stuffed animals. These special songs hold a key place in the hearts of their dedicated listeners, and none fit the description better than singer Taylor Swift’s Red album tracks. 

After the release of the hit album Fearless (2018) in July 2020, fans — known as Swifties — awaited the reveal of her new version of the 2012 classic album Red, the next on her list of releases. 

Thirty tracks, including re-recordings of Red‘s original 16 tracks and 14 bonus songs, make up Swift’s treat to her fans. Red (Taylor’s Version) has become the second of Swift’s albums to be re-published under her ownership, for record label Big Machine Records possesses the masters to her first six albums even after she left the company — largely because of poor treatment from talent manager Scooter Braun who bought the masters

The tracks perfectly capture the experience of fall and, of course, break up, proving once again Swift’s musical expertise. 

The longest song of the album, “All Too Well,” at 10 minutes and 13 seconds, prevails as the most notable, and Swift released the song alongside a music video featuring actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. The well-written lyrics leave the listeners reeling with a bitter taste in their mouths. It’s impossible not to sympathize with the songwriter as she describes the allegedly manipulative relationship she had with actor Jake Gyllenhaal 11 years ago: she was 20, and he was 29. Lyrics about the infamous red scarf and the couple’s age gap supported suspicions that Taylor specifically wrote the song about their 3-month-long romance. 

Lyrics like “Well, maybe we got lost in translation / Maybe I asked for too much / But maybe this thing was a masterpiece / ‘Til you tore it all up” display the mental havoc of an emotionally manipulative relationship, leaving listeners to wallow in Swift’s painful past. 

The shortened version of “All Too Well,” at 5 minutes and 28 seconds, manages to leave an impact similar to its lengthened edition. The beginning three verses progress at a consistent, slow pace until reaching the bridge when the speed picks up, leading to a more momentous melody. Swift shifts from reminiscing over her relationship to finally acknowledging her lover’s farewell in their failed relationship. 

In contrast, the four minute song “Treacherous” has a soft, melancholy beat and addresses her risky but heartfelt relationship with Connor Kennedy. A re-release from the album’s original version, this rendition of the song displays Swift’s growth as both an artist and a person. 

The continuous guitar serves as a subtle reminder of Swift’s days as a country music artist and reinforces a calming beat, until the pace picks up at the chorus. 

Taking a deeper look at the lyrics, it seems as though Swift pleads to herself to let go of a toxic relationship she insists on maintaining. Understanding that it’s unhealthy for her, she acknowledges that the “path is reckless” and she’s “getting swept away,” but even so, she continues to be wrapped up in their connection. 

Loved by many listeners, “Message In A Bottle” tells the story of Swift hoping for someone to notice her feelings for them. Even the title itself, a reference to seaking rescue with a last resort method of communication, displays how she hopes her lover can reciprocate and learn of her affection. The love-struck and hopeful tones ignites an urge to sing along with its catchy beat. Unlike the previous tracks that have a country-like feel to them, this song is far more pop and suits listeners who enjoy that genre. 

As enjoyable as the original Red album was, the new “From the Vault” songs gave Swifties a view of the new Taylor they missed. Re-recorded tracks can leave them with a nostalgic feel as they remember the classic songs they loved.