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Taylor Swift - 1989 (Taylor's Version) (Album Review)

Friday, 03 November 2023 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Beth Garrabrant

Many songwriters will tell you that when their material is first written and recorded it’s like a baby who’s yet to develop a fully formed identity. That often comes over time due to performing them every night, where they begin to communicate to their creators who they are and what they mean. Having spent nearly a decade with ‘1989’, Taylor Swift’s latest re-recording project suggests she has developed a particularly nuanced, loving relationship with her mega-selling pop-opus.

A retro-modern cocktail that saw Swift push into glossy synth-pop territory, salvaging classic ‘80s pop sounds and melding them with a more contemporary aesthetic, it remains, if not her finest, certainly the singer’s most important record. After cutting ties with the country music scene that launched her to fame, and burning many bridges in the process, its rollout was a must-win contest. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Having gained the confidence to execute this reinvention after flirting with pop music on 2012’s ‘Red’, ‘1989’ was Swift’s first full blown foray into the genre.

Almost 10 years later, and with a wealth of pop mileage on the clock, she and her collaborators – many of whom worked on the original – have a much better understanding of her strengths in this arena, and the possibilities of the material, than when it was conceived.

With radiant textures shining, popping and dazzling out of an astonishingly improved mix, every element of this latest re-recording feels crisper, sharper, brighter and more sure-footed in a way that accentuates the songs’ escapist, youthful, romantic wonder. 

Whether conjuring the Big Apple’s whirlwind of exhilarating sights, sounds and emotions on Welcome To New York, adding extra bottom end propulsion to Style’s rhythm section, gifting epic choruses like I Wish You Would’s elevated panoramic potency, or allowing colourful arrangements to enhance the record’s immersive atmospherics, there’s a magical aura to these versions. 

Combine that with Swift’s more mature and impressive vocal timbre, and what you’re hearing are songs that have truly come of age, which also applies to the album’s high quality vault tracks, albeit in a different way. Considering they don’t wholly resemble completed out-takes from ‘1989’, you’d be forgiven for suspecting sleight of hand here, especially when they possess a distinct similarity to last years ‘Midnights’.

Musically speaking, “Slut!” and Suburban Legends could easily be leftovers from that record. Yet, their lyrical references and subject matter harks back to her writing style when ‘1989’ was originally hatched, suggesting these songs were sketches that could have merely been rough demos. ‘Midnights’ already felt like a grown up take on ‘1989’, so developing them as a hybrid of the two feels both synergistic and more authentic than artificially trying to recapture a style she’s outgrown.

An enlightening masterclass that makes you feel like you’re hearing its well known material with fresh ears, by now we shouldn’t be surprised at Swift’s continued ability to deliver the goods. So with her two weakest albums left to re-record — a dated country-pop debut replete with faux Nashville accent and the shark-jumping ‘Reputation’ — you wouldn’t bet against her turning those awkward offspring into upstanding young adults.

Taylor Swift Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri February 16 2024 - MELBOURNE MCG
Sat February 17 2024 - MELBOURNE MCG
Sun February 18 2024 - MELBOURNE MCG
Fri February 23 2024 - SYDNEY Accor Stadium
Sat February 24 2024 - SYDNEY Accor Stadium
Sun February 25 2024 - SYDNEY Accor Stadium
Mon February 26 2024 - SYDNEY Accor Stadium

Thu May 09 2024 - PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
Fri May 10 2024 - PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
Sat May 11 2024 - PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
Sun May 12 2024 - PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
Fri May 17 2024 - STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
Sat May 18 2024 - STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
Sun May 19 2024 - STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
Fri May 24 2024 - LISBON Estádio da Luz (Portugal)
Sat May 25 2024 - LISBON Estádio da Luz (Portugal)
Thu May 30 2024 - MADRID Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (Spain)
Sun June 02 2024 - LYON Groupama Stadium (France)
Mon June 03 2024 - LYON Groupama Stadium (France)

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 July 04 2024 - AMSTERDAM Johan Cruijff ArenA (Netherlands)
Fri July 05 2024 - AMSTERDAM Johan Cruijff ArenA (Netherlands)
Sat July 06 2024 - AMSTERDAM Johan Cruijff ArenA (Netherlands)
Tue July 09 2024 - ZURICH Stadion Letzigrund (Switzerland)
Wed July 10 2024 - ZURICH Stadion Letzigrund (Switzerland)
Sat July 13 2024 - MILAN SAN SIRO STADIUM (Italy)
Sun July 14 2024 - MILAN SAN SIRO STADIUM (Italy)
Wed July 17 2024 - GELSENKIRCHEN VELTINS Arena (Germany)
Thu July 18 2024 - GELSENKIRCHEN VELTINS Arena (Germany)
Tue July 23 2024 - HAMBURG Volksparkstadion (Germany)
Wed July 24 2024 - HAMBURG Volksparkstadion (Germany)
Sat July 27 2024 - MUNICH Olympiastadion (Germany)
Sun July 28 2024 - MUNICH Olympiastadion (Germany)
Thu August 01 2024 - WARSAW PGE Narodowy (Poland)
Fri August 02 2024 - WARSAW PGE Narodowy (Poland)
Sat August 03 2024 - WARSAW PGE Narodowy (Poland)
Thu August 08 2024 - VIENNA Ernst Happel Stadion (Austria)
Fri August 09 2024 - VIENNA Ernst Happel Stadion (Austria)
Sat August 10 2024 - VIENNA Ernst Happel Stadion (Austria)

Thu August 15 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Fri August 16 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Sat August 17 2024 - LONDON Wembley Stadium

Fri October 18 2024 - MIAMI Florida - Hard Rock Stadium - Complex (USA)
Sat October 19 2024 - MIAMI Florida - Hard Rock Stadium - Complex (USA)
Sun October 20 2024 - MIAMI Florida - Hard Rock Stadium - Complex (USA)
Fri October 25 2024 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Caesars Superdome (USA)
Sat October 26 2024 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Caesars Superdome (USA)
Sun October 27 2024 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Caesars Superdome (USA)
Fri November 01 2024 - INDIANAPOLIS Indiana - Lucas Oil Stadium (USA)
Sat November 02 2024 - INDIANAPOLIS Indiana - Lucas Oil Stadium (USA)
Sun November 03 2024 - INDIANAPOLIS Indiana - Lucas Oil Stadium (USA)
Thu November 14 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Rogers Centre (Canada)
Fri November 15 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Rogers Centre (Canada)
Sat November 16 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Rogers Centre (Canada)
Thu November 21 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Rogers Centre (Canada)
Fri November 22 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Rogers Centre (Canada)
Sat November 23 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Rogers Centre (Canada)
Fri December 06 2024 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - BC Place (Canada)
Sat December 07 2024 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - BC Place (Canada)
Sun December 08 2024 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - BC Place (Canada)

Compare & Buy Taylor Swift Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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