Taylor Swift made the decision to do something even more risky than becoming a full blown popstar after being labeled America’s country music darling. She is doing something even more risky than surprise dropping two folk-alternative albums five months apart. Taylor Swift is taking the biggest risk of her career thus far.
After the original master recordings of Swift’s work were sold to an investment group, without her knowledge or consent, she decided to re-record and re-release her first six albums. This is all in an effort to fully own the recordings of the songs that she created as a teen and young adult- something that is unheard of in the music industry.
In late 2020, the world heard the first snippet of what the new-old music would sound like. Thirty seconds of “Love Story” was used in a Match.com ad, and, from what was heard, the new recording sounded nearly identical to the original hit.
As Fearless (Taylor’s Version) got closer to a reality, it was announced that the original tracks from the album would be accompanied by six never formally released tracks. These six tracks were written in the same time period as the rest of the Fearless tracks, but, for various reasons, missed the cut to be placed on the original tracklist.
But should the new tracks have just stayed in Swift’s filing cabinet? Most of the songs have a sibling on the main tracklist that took their spot, but others are not Swift’s strongest work and serve as a nostalgic look into the Fearless era.
The pre-released “You All Over Me (Feat. Maren Morris)” and first vault track listed is a slow burning candle that does not quite make your house smell better. It captures a moment of past Swift reminiscing on a former love, claiming she can still feel them on her. The weakest vault song has a fine production with fine lyrics, but Swift does not disappoint with the next songs.
Swift teaches her former peers a masterclass in country music with “Mr. Perfectly Fine.” Presumably beat out by “Forever & Always” on the orginal, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is the perfect moving-on-but-I-still-have-a-lot-to-say Swift masterpiece. “Goodbye, Mr. ‘Perfectly fine’ / How's your heart after breakin' mine? / Mr. ‘Always at the right place at the right time,’ baby / Goodbye, Mr. ‘Casually cruel’ / Mr. ‘Everything revolves around you’ / I've been Miss Misery for the last time / And you're Mr. ‘Perfectly fine’”
The vault songs continue with almost closure (“We Were Happy”) and a smooth breakup (“That’s When (Feat. Keith Urban)). The latter being one of Swift’s best duets to date- a perfect blending of Swift and Urban’s country twangs by producer Jack Antonoff.
Antonoff is not new to the Swift universe. He started working with Swift during the 1989 era and is the only producer to work on every album since. Antonoff has also worked on classics like Melodrama and Norman F****** Rockwell.
The vault songs finish with “Don’t You” and “Bye Bye Baby.” Both describe feelings that take place right after a relationship finishes- asking to be remembered and finally letting go. “Bye Bye Baby” is, quite plainly, beautiful. Swift’s lyrics are clean and wash the mind from distractions; she is in control of her narrative.
The vault songs, overall, were a perfect addition to Swift’s diamond certified Fearless. They were added to serve as a continuation of 2008 Swift’s story and do the job well. In two months time, the world will probably have the next installment of the re-recording saga- and hopefully that job will be done just as well.