Fearless Album Review

Thirteen years ago, on Nov. 11, 2008, Taylor Swift released her wildly successful second studio album “Fearless.” Classified as country-pop, “Fearless” is a significant mark in Swift’s transition to becoming a fully pop, and eventually alternative, artist. Though Swift is now regarded as a multi-faceted artist, with highly successful tracks in different genres, her success can in part be traced back to this project. “Fearless” spent 11 weeks on the Billboard 200 and was certified Diamond. The record is one of the best-selling albums of this century, selling around 12 million copies across the world, and is the most awarded country album in history. The record was met with generally positive reviews, with critics complimenting the young artist’s songwriting and ability to merge the country and pop genres. 

But the story of “Fearless did not stop in 2008. Recently, the artist has been on a journey to re-record her albums from the early 2000s and 2010s. This follows an infamous dispute over the masters with American record executive Scooter Braun. “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” was released again in April of 2021, with double the number of tracks that were on the original record, including unreleased songs referred to as being “From the Vault.” Seniors Emma Darcy and Callie Schineller were two of the many Swifties excited to hear Swift’s re-recorded music:

“’Fearless’ has been my favorite album since 2008 and the vault tracks that Taylor released with the recording just made the album that much better,” Darcy said.

“…[I] stayed up and listened to the album in its entirety 2-3 times so [I] could get a feel for the new sound. The songs have that same iconic Taylor Swift sound, but are richer and deeper than they used to be,” Schneiller said. She also explained that some of the songs’ meanings, particularly “Fifteen,” changed with the new recordings.

While the original record’s production could be considered repetitive or formulaic, the re-recordings bring both nostalgia and refinement that Swift didn’t attain in the initial release. 

The success and attention “Fearless” received over a decade ago, and continues to receive, is completely deserved. Swift created an album with a range of emotions and stories.  “Fearless’s” acclaimed singles, including “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me” and “Fearless” are catchy songs with simple stories that perfectly capture the emotional turbulence of being a teenager in love and choruses that nearly every millennial and Gen Z-er can recite. Other songs on the album such as “Breathe (feat. Cobie Caillat),” “White Horse,” “The Best Day” and “Change” tell stories that are relatable and mature. The tracks are all the most impressive considering they were written by an 18-year-old. 

“I’m not a huge fan of Taylor Swift, but I love how descriptive the song ‘Love Story’ is, the narrative within the song makes it that much better to listen to,” first-year Katie Caracciolo said. 

While Swift has often been ridiculed by the media for writing songs about her love interests, the tracks on “Fearless” touch on topics such as anxiety, family and closure, or the lack of it. Her songwriting and production make for music that is layered: emotionally complex, catchy, heartbreaking and commercially successful. 

“Taylor Swift has taken all of her negative experiences from being constantly in the limelight [and] really turned them into beautiful songs. Each album of hers [is] so different from one another but each convey[s] a really unique and relatable experience. She is the music industry,” Darcy concluded.

Schneiller agreed, saying that, “She went from being a girl from Pennsylvania, to a country singer in Nashville, to a pop artist and now she’s dipping her toes into a more indie sound … not everyone can use their talent to turn themselves into the most famous singer of our generation, but Taylor Swift did.”

Over a decade later, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” reached number one on the Billboard 200, the first re-recorded album to do so. The success of the revived record is proof enough of Swift’s talent and how timeless her music is.