Sad Girl Autumn is Officially Here: A Review of Red (Taylor’s Version)

Sad Girl Autumn is Officially Here: A Review of Red (Taylor’s Version)

Photo Credit: Samantha Hamilton, Photo Editor

Get ready to be happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time

Arib Hassam, The Mike Contributor

In 2019, Taylor Swift announced that she would re-record her first six studio albums in order to reclaim ownership of her work. Red (Taylor’s Version), released November 12, 2021, marks the second of these re-recordings. The two-hour album is Swift’s longest to date and contains a whopping 30 remastered songs. While the majority of songs on Red (Taylor’s Version) are essentially identical to their counterparts on the older version of the album, nine of the tracks are from Swift’s collection of unreleased music. These new songs “From The Vault” include collaborations with singer-songwriters Ed Sheehan, Phoebe Bridgers, and Chris Stapleton. 

“A fractured mosaic of feelings,” as described by Swift in an Instagram caption, her latest album explores a variety of themes and emotions. Swift uses a hybrid country-pop sound and rich lyrics to sonically tell stories of heartbreak, sadness, and romantic tragedy. The album includes updated versions of some of Swift’s most popular songs including “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version),” “22 (Taylor’s Version),” and “I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version).” It’s been about a decade since these songs were first heard by the general public, and Swift’s powerful vocals on Red (Taylor’s Version) make this evident. In the past ten years of her career, Swift’s breath control and vocal range have both developed immensely, allowing her to hit once difficult high notes with ease. On the more emotional tracks, Swift’s voice authentically captures the raw emotions of her lyrics and effortlessly imparts them onto the listener. 

Perhaps the most notable song on Red (Taylor’s Version) is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” – and yes that is the full title of the song. A week before the release of the album, Swift announced that a fifteen-minute short film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien would be accompanying the release of the extended version of the track. Widely considered to be one of the best songs in Swift’s discography, “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” is a favourite amongst fans and critics alike and the ten-minute version doesn’t disappoint. As the closing track on the album, this ballad presumably tells the story of Swift’s relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhal and describes the painful imprint left on Swift after their breakup. One reason why the song is so popular is its ability to fully grasp the listener with raw and authentic emotions. The slow, steady melodic build-up over the course of the song coupled with Swift’s masterful use of imagery and storytelling in the lyrics truly encompass the pain of having one’s heart broken. 

One area of song-writing where Swift consistently excels in is her bridges, and the lines “Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest” are particularly poetic and devastating, which makes this evident  Throughout the song, Swift references specific moments throughout the course of the relationship; how her ex-lover kept her scarf as a reminder of her, how he and her dad bonded over coffee, and how he stood her up on her 21st birthday. Overall, the song creates a strong emotional grasp on listeners and tells a very relatable narrative about the tragic aftermath of a relationship.

Red (Taylor’s Version) debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 top album chart, making it her 10th number one album on the chart. Additionally, “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A staggering twenty-five other songs from the album also debuted on the Hot 100 chart.

The commercial success of Red (Taylor’s Version) proves it to be just as formidable of an album as its predecessor. With significantly improved vocals and exceptionally strong song-writing, the album truly embodies what it feels like to fall in and out of love. Containing some of her most iconic hits as well as some of her most lyrically powerful tracks, Red (Taylor’s Version) solidifies Swift’s cultural impact on the music industry and proves itself to be the quintessential autumnal heartthrob album.