We all have a Taylor Swift album that made us a fan fan—the one album that came out at the right time, striking deep into the places within we needed to feel a little less alone about. For me, that album was always 1989. But in truth, 2014 was a horrible year, and I’m thrilled beyond words at how different, familiar, and hopeful 1989 (Taylor’s Version) feels. Since she gets to take back her music, we, as her fans, get to take back our experiences, too—build new ones.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) might just be her best re-recorded album, and I say that objectively. (Maybe, I don’t know, I am a little biased. Fine.) Still, as emotional and simultaneously upbeat as this album is, the depth is insurmountable. How many of us have wept for hours to “Clean?” And it hits with the same intensity now, too, but maybe even more so because there’s so much history we’ve yet to unpack and so much that’s happened. The vault tracks are sensational, her vocals are unbeatable, and the melodies hit even harder this time.
There’s plenty to wax poetic on. Swift’s vocals and the range within her now work best for an album that’s all about liberation and holding on to the wildest dreams within. Every song sounds better than it did before in 1989 (Taylor’s Version), making every emotion feel that much more familiar.
When we all heard that there’d be a vault track turned single, “Slut!” we probably assumed it’d be a sister song to “Look What You Made Me Do” or “Karma.” I expected a loud, necessary banger—yet another thing to jam to when I was frustrated and pissed off. Instead, “Slut!” is a brilliantly evocative ballad that makes my heart shatter every single time I play it. It’s the type of song I never thought Swift would choose as a single. It’s hard to even compare it to anything else because there’s something so classically pop about it that it feels like a song from the 90s—something we’ve been listening to for ages—something that’s been with us this entire time.
In truth, all the vault songs in 1989 (Taylor’s Version) are exceptional—there are no skip tracks here. “Suburban Legends,” “Say Don’t Go,” “Now That We Don’t Talk,” and “Is It Over Now?” along with “Slut!” are all phenomenal numbers showcasing Swift’s addicting talent as a songwriter. The lyrics and the melody—everything in between. It doesn’t matter who these songs are about, and it doesn’t matter what they represent. What matters is that she’s giving a whole new generation of people words to help them get through some of their darkest moments.
There’s a tremendous amount to appreciate about 1989 (Taylor’s Version)—it’s for every person who loved the original and every person who just started listening to her yesterday. These songs, in more ways than one, are about making it out of the woods (yes, I went there) and finding safe places to fall. For many people, Swift’s music has been a saving grace. And it continues to be that way with underrated tracks like “I Know Places,” giving people a newfound love for the absolute wordsmith that she is. Her music ensures that no one feels alone, allowing them to dive deep into soft places where even if things go wrong, they’ll still be okay in the end.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) is now streaming and available for purchase.