Critics praise Taylor Swift's ‘beyond-meticulous' re-recording of album Fearless
Critics have praised Taylor Swift following the release of her new recording of her 2008 hit album Fearless.
The record was a blockbuster hit 13 years ago and won Swift the album of the year Grammy but it is one of the albums at the centre of a dispute over her masters.
She is now re-recording her back catalogue following the sale of her old record label and critics have praised her ability to effectively recreate her old music.
NME said: “Fearless (Taylor’s Version) both celebrates and stays true to Swift’s Fearless-era.
“She’s recruited musicians who were involved in the original recordings and who have been a part of her touring band, and the re-workings of the songs rarely tread far from their initial recordings.
“Production here is crisper and warmer than that of the original, and Swift’s vocals are, understandably, more mature.
“Take the title-track Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is a brilliant pop-rock song filled with soaring vocal melodies and starry eyed lyricism.
“The new mixing draws attention to the song’s stellar instrumental arrangements, with the rich bassline more prominent and mandolin and fiddle lines given space to breathe.
“Yet despite the more mature sound, the ecstatic bridge, which sees Swift flutter, ‘It’s a first kiss, it’s flawless, really something / It’s fearless’, effortlessly conjures up the breathless romance and diaristic lyrics that permeated the 2008 release.”
Variety said: “There is no best actress award at the Grammys, perhaps for obvious reasons, but maybe there should be this coming year.
“And the Grammy would go to… Taylor Swift, for so persuasively playing her 18-year-old self in Fearless (Taylor’s Version), her beyond-meticulous recreation of the 2008 recording that did win her her first album of the year trophy back in the day.
“It’s impossible to overstate just how thoroughly the new version is intended as an exact replica of the old — all the way down to her startling ability to recapture an untrained teen singing voice she’s long matured and moved on from.
“It’s a stunt, to be sure, but a stunt for the ages — mastering the guile it takes to go back to sounding this guileless.”
The i newspaper said Swift “has honoured her 18-year-old self remarkably closely: imitating nearly every breath, inflection and cry.”
She added: “It is meticulously faithful, and nostalgic for her old innocence, the intervening years adding wisdom and depth without trying too hard to emphasise the growth between ‘then’ and ‘now’.
The Guardian suggested Swift’s re-recording is perhaps a little too faithful to the original, saying: “It is tempting to suggest that the lyrics on Fearless might take on a different hue sung by a woman now in her 30s, but the new recordings militate against it.
“Backed by her touring band, her voice sounding essentially the same as it did in 2008, Swift has resisted any temptation to alter the songs’ pop-country arrangements or lyrics, even when the latter could have used a nip and tuck.
“(Perhaps the more experienced songwriter might have shied away from mentioning kissing in the rain with such alarming regularity.)
“Attempting to compare these new recordings and the originals is vexing. Is the production slightly brighter? Is her vocal a little more forward in the mix? But obviously that close similarity was the objective.”
The Los Angeles Times said the bonus tracks on the re-record, which did not make the original are “lightweight” but praised Swift’s vocal development.
The review said: “The most significant change is in Swift’s singing voice, a once-brittle instrument that of course has gotten deeper, huskier and more flexible since the late ’00s.
“But she only really takes advantage of that shift a couple of times — in Fifteen, which now carries some of the disappointment her fresh-faced narrator had yet to face, and The Best Day, an earnest tribute to her parents that skirted corniness a decade ago but now feels lined with an adult understanding of childhood. (That Swift’s mother has since battled cancer repeatedly makes the song only more poignant.)
“As for the lightweight bonus material, which she cut in the studio with her Folklore and Evermore collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, none of it argues that it deserved a place on Fearless, though Mr Perfectly Fine comes close.
“Lots of mid-tempo acoustic strumming here; lots of lyrics missing the trademark specificity that defines Swift’s A-game.”