Review: 'Fearless (Taylor's Version)' is a reflection on the teenage years

After a series of disputes with her former record label, Taylor Swift's rerecording is a return to her roots and an ultimate success

Taylor Swift rereleased her iconic “Fearless” album last week and it left fans like myself reminiscent of her older work while recognizing her growing independence as an artist. As a “Swiftie” of 15 years, I have never felt more connected to an album. 

I spent the majority of my childhood jamming out to “Love Story” in my bedroom.

Everything from her style to her lyrics made me idolize her growing up, and with this rerelease, I’m reconfirming my childhood admiration. At the time, I had no idea what it meant to fall in love, and Swift's "Fearless" romanticized the experience for a 9-year-old me.

Nearly 13 years later, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)" recaptures the same magic and emotions as it did when I was a preteen.

The rerelease comes around three years after Swift's separation with Big Machine Records in 2018 after a series of several disputes, including the label declining the singer-songwriter use of the older songs from her discography. When Swift decided to leave the label, she was told every album she had released with them would not belong to her unless she signed on for a few more years and earned each one back.

In an effort to reclaim her music, Swift planned to rerecord those earlier albums, “Fearless” being the first of many.

I grew up listening to all of Swift's albums, so this one wasn't just a revival of her past, but also mine. Like many of us, I have graduated elementary, middle and high school since the album's original release, and I am approaching my college graduation in its revamping. 

Listening to these old tunes, albeit newer renditions, conjures some of my most major childhood milestones and memories; I even remember where I was when I heard “You Belong With Me” for the first time.

"Fearless" was never the album I went back to, but now, I realized it is the one I dearly missed. 

Throughout the entirety of the rerelease, the maturity in Swift's voice resembles her growth as a whole. Songs that used to have almost immature tones, now carry the weight and knowledge of a woman who has experienced so much.

It was therapeutic to sit there and reminisce on my own life, feeling my own growing pains along with hers.

In "Fifteen (Taylor's Version)," I can remember going back to the original in high school after my first heartbreak. I was unsure, just like Swift, of how anything could get better after the end of that relationship.

Hearing Swift's tonal changes to the song makes it feel more like the voice of a wiser, older sibling, rather than a heartbroken teen. This same shift resonates with me because I hope to be that source of comfort and compassion for my younger siblings. 

Just like back then, I am able to put myself in Swift's place and reflect.

And hearing the lyric in "White Horse (Taylor's Version)" "find someone who would actually treat her well" continues to impact me. Having watched Swift experience many public breakups, it is heartwarming as a fan to know she actually did find someone.

Overall, the sense of pride I felt while listening to the rerelease was inexplicable.

As much as the rerelease was something Swift did for her fans, ultimately, it also serves as closure for her. Swift has endured a great deal of pushback over the years, sometimes being put into a box of who she used to be: teenage Taylor, country Taylor.

With this return to her roots, she's achieved what I consider the ultimate success. She is looking back on her career and teenage years filled with criticism and hate, and now she can say survived.

And she helped us to survive those tough times, too.


Reach the reporter at skenoun@asu.edu and follow @sabrinakenoun on Twitter. 

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