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Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Taylor's Version) (Album Review)

Thursday, 13 July 2023 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Beth Garrabrant

Just imagine being an awkward teenager on the cusp of adulthood, with all that entails, while simultaneously becoming a global megastar whose every move is dissected and condemned by bloodthirsty tabloids. Spurred on by relentless attacks about her artistic and personal worth after ‘Fearless’ had exploded into the public consciousness, a 19-year-old Taylor Swift found herself in this exact spot before releasing ‘Speak Now’ in 2010.

 

Intentionally crafted without a single co-writer, in order to prove her creative mettle, Swift seized the artistic reins, underwent extensive vocal training, following crushing digs about her singing deficiencies, and unleashed this sweeping pop-rock record (sporadic twanging banjos in the background does not a country album make) that served as her inevitable adios to Nashville. 

This re-recording, which follows Taylor’s Versions of ‘Fearless’ and ‘Red’, reaffirms that, given her tender years and all that unimaginable scrutiny, ‘Speak Now’ was a remarkable achievement. 

Boasting a glossier contemporary sound, eagle-eared listeners will detect subtle changes to licks, textures and placing of instruments in the mix in this new take. Although colourful and vibrant, with all three re-recordings being shepherded by the same team, and slightly retooled to appeal to her now wider fan base, there is a slight feeling that sonic homogenisation has crept in at the expense of the original’s unique period nuances.

That extends to the lyrics, where Swift has divisively updated one line from Better Than Revenge to reflect the beliefs she holds in 2023. In this instance, though, her choice has been validated. A slut-shaming payback number, Swift has laudably corrected the song’s most controversial and hypocritical lyric. “She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress,” has been rewritten as “He was a moth to the flame, she was holding the matches,” without detracting from the guitar-driven banger’s scorned essence.

Delivering quality outtakes from the ‘Speak Now’ sessions, alongside Ours and Superman, two cuts from the deluxe version of the original, this effort’s bonus content is a treat. On top of stylistically synergistic vault tracks such as fairytale love story Timeless and Fall Out Boy duet Electric Touch, we’re gifted a fascinating glimpse at ideas that were already percolating in Swift’s head for future releases. 

Can I See You, think The Cardigans covering The Police in a thriving modern indie club, foreshadows the sprawling stylistic explosion of ‘Red’ while Foolish One’s verses provide an upbeat early glimpse at what would evolve into All Too Well’s haunting cadence.

Another immaculate re-recording, Taylor’s Version of ‘Speak Now’ probably won’t silence the haters. It’s sometimes easy to forget superstars are only human but, with a little perspective and empathy afforded to the songwriter’s unique, and often less idyllic than we might think, personal and professional circumstances, releases like this make it increasingly hard to dispute that Taylor Swift is kind of incredible.

Taylor Swift Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri June 07 2024 - EDINBURGH BT Murrayfield Stadium
Sat June 08 2024 - EDINBURGH BT Murrayfield Stadium
Sun June 09 2024 - EDINBURGH BT Murrayfield Stadium
Thu June 13 2024 - LIVERPOOL Anfield Stadium
Fri June 14 2024 - LIVERPOOL Anfield Stadium
Sat June 15 2024 - LIVERPOOL Anfield Stadium
Tue June 18 2024 - CARDIFF Principality Stadium
Fri June 21 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Sat June 22 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Sun June 23 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Fri June 28 2024 - DUBLIN Aviva Stadium
Sat June 29 2024 - DUBLIN Aviva Stadium
Sun June 30 2024 - DUBLIN Aviva Stadium
Thu August 15 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Fri August 16 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Sat August 17 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium

Compare & Buy Taylor Swift Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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