By Toyin Owoseje, CNN
It’s official. Taylor Swift has unlocked the vault.
On Friday, the Grammy award-winning singer unveiled “Red (Taylor’s Version),” a rerecording of her acclaimed 2012 album “Red,” as part of her ongoing mission to regain ownership of her early music.
While the original album was 16 tracks, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is an epic 30 tracks, featuring musical collaborations with Phoebe Bridgers, Gary Lightbody, Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton. It also includes nine previously unreleased songs that didn’t make the final product in 2012.
And guessing from the reactions on social media, revisiting the past isn’t always a bad idea.
“I am crying @taylorswift13 #RedTaylorsVersion . Freaking AWESOME,” one fan wrote on Twitter, while another said: “taylor swift just hits different and especially when its Red we are talking about.”
Among music critics, the reception was also largely positive.
Awarding the album five stars, Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield described the project as “a tribute to how far she’s traveled, but it makes you even more excited for where she’s heading next. “
Writing specifically about the long-lost 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” he said Swift “takes her own masterpiece, tears it all up, breaks it like a promise, shreds her tapestry, and rebuilds it into a new heartbreak epic, twice as long and twice as mad.”
According to Variety’s Chris Willman, Swift benefits from having nearly all the original producers from the album back on board.
However, he writes: “A general initial impression is that the more acoustically based stuff is easier to exactly recreate without producer Nathan Chapman than her very first forays into electro-pop are without Max Martin, although the differences may be hard for the non-Swiftie ear to immediately be heard.”
Nonetheless, he says, the collection of nine previously unreleased songs “doesn’t have a real dud in the bunch.”
In a four-star review entitled “A retread of heartbreak,” NME’s Hannah Mylrea says 31-year-old Swift’s matured vocals are the most significant change.
“You hear it clearest on the spoken-word moments, like ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’s withering put-down: “With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine,” she writes, before adding that “It’s the sort of eye-roll moment typical of being a young adult, and while delivered with vim in its creation, in these moments the shifts in Swift’s lyricism and vocals in the 10 years since it was first released are obvious.”
“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second in the series for Swift’s rerecording project. In April this year, she topped the Billboard 200 chart with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” which was the reworking of her 2008 sophomore album, “Fearless.”
Swift previously announced plans to revisit her early albums (from her 2006 self-titled debut up to 2017’s “Reputation”) in a bid to regain ownership of the work she released under her former label Big Machine Records.
Superstar manager Scooter Braun acquired the master recordings of Swift’s first six albums in 2019, despite her objections. Swift confirmed in a Twitter post in November last year that the masters have since been sold to Shamrock Holdings.
Following the release of “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Swift thanked fans for inspiring her to reclaim her art, telling her 89 million Twitter followers: “It never would have been possible to go back & remake my previous work, uncovering lost art & forgotten gems along the way if you hadn’t emboldened me. Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Now we begin again.”
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