Listened 2021 studio album by Taylor Swift from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is the first re-recorded album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on April 9, 2021, through Republic Records. It is a re-recording of Swift’s second studio album, Fearless (2008), and the first of six re-recorded albums Swift plans to release, following the dispute regarding ownership of the masters to her first six studio albums.

Fearless is the first installment of Taylor Swift’s re-recording of her first six albums. With bonus tracks and previously unrecorded material, it is a lengthy album, perfectly designed to maximise streaming services.

In some respects the new tracks, produced by Antonoff and Dessner, feel like a continuation of the work done on Folklore and Evermore.

Dessner and Antonoff’s production believably reframes these Fearless outtakes as folklore deep cuts. It’s proof of how thin the line between a twilit country radio ballad and shimmery indie-tinged folk-rock can be.

Ben Thompson compares the exercise with what Dave Chappelle did when he asked them to not wqtch his show. Thompson wonders if she will or even needs to remake any more of her albums.

It’s easy to see how this plays out going forward: Swift probably doesn’t even have to remake another album; she has demonstrated the willingness and capability to remake her old records, and her fans will do the rest. It will behoove Shamrock Capital, the current owner of Swift’s masters, to buy-out Braun’s share of future upside and make a deal with Swift, because Swift, granted the power to go direct to fans and make her case, can in fact “change history, facts, and re-frame any story [she] want[s] to fit with any narrative [she] wish[es].”

Bookmarked Why Taylor Swift’s Nostalgia Play Works by Shirley Li (theatlantic.com)

The re-recording, which has already topped the U.S. iTunes chart, certainly marks another instance of pop culture’s obsession with nostalgia paying off. Many similar industry efforts—TV reboots, extensions of film franchises, covers of childhood favorites—service fans through cameos and casual references without meaningfully considering the original work’s impact. But Swift, through her stronger vocals, engages with her younger self, scrutinizing her lyrics. She joins in on the act of being a Taylor Swift fan.

Shirley Li reflects upon Taylor Swift’s rerecording of Taylor Swift’s Love Story. She explains that this is more than just a like for like recreation, but instead it is an ode to a past self.
Listened 2020 studio album by Taylor Swift from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Evermore has been described as the sister album to Folklore, with the majority of the album produced by Aaron Dessner.

On “evermore,” she sounds loose and unburdened—free, finally, from the debilitating squeeze of other people’s expectations. It’s a lush, tender, and beautiful album, steadier if less varied than “folklore,” and infused with backward-looking wisdom.

On evermore, she’s gone even smaller. It’s a soft, meditative, consciously quiet album. This time around, she’s not really writing pop songs and presenting them in the clothing of NPR-style indie. Instead, she’s just straight-up writing NPR-indie songs. It’s a small but crucial distinction.

The folkloreevermore era has been one marked by a spirit of artistic freedom. Unbound by pop convention, and perhaps with newfound commercial flexibility – with the success of folklore as proof of surprise-release viability – Swift is able to both explore abstract turns of phrase (“gold rush”) and unfurl narratives (“champagne problems”). On both albums, she’s been permitted to play with sound and texture in a way that feels uncharacteristic of contemporary radio pop.

Listened Taylor Swift Releases Surprise folklore Live Album – Stereogum,Taylor Swift Releases Surprise folklore Live Album from Stereogum

Yesterday, Taylor Swift pulled another surprise attack. This past summer, Swift released her quarantine album folklore with only a day of advance notice. Yesterday — the same day that folklore was nominated for a buttload of Grammys — Swift announced the impending release of Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, a new live-concert movie that Swift made with her folklore collaborators Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, and Justin Vernon. That film is up on Disney+ today, and Swift also went ahead and made a whole live album out of it.

Continuing the reimagining of live music, Taylor Swift released an intimate ‘live’ performance which strips back folklore even more, while at the same time presenting to the world. Rather than ‘three ingredients’, each of the songs was limited to Swift, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner.

Given that folklore was already basically an acoustic album, it’s still striking to hear Swift and her collaborators stripping those songs down even further, giving them a different level of intimacy.

The conversations between Swift, Antonoff and Dessner were insightful and worth the watch.

Liked The Linguistic Evolution of Taylor Swift (daily.jstor.org)

Taylor Swift isn’t alone in being accused of faking an accent. American pop-punk bands like Green Day have been accused of faking British accents in imitation of the Sex Pistols, just as non-American groups (such as the French band Phoenix) put on their best-dressed American accents during performances. Code switching in genres is not uncommon and generally passes unnoticed, especially if listeners never get a chance to hear an artist’s normal speaking voice—unless that voice sings in a new genre where a different accent might be the norm.

Listened 2020 studio album by Taylor Swift from Wikipedia

Folklore (stylized in all lowercase) is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on July 24, 2020, through Republic Records. A surprise album announced without pre-release promotional campaigns, Folklore was written and recorded while in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Musically, the album marks a departure from the upbeat pop sound of Swift’s preceding studio albums to stripped-down tunes driven by piano and guitar, with production from Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff and Swift herself. Categorized as an indie folk, alternative rock, electro-folk, and chamber pop record, Folklore portrays what Swift called “a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness” rising out of her imagination. It manifests vivid storytelling from largely third-person narratives that detail heartbreak and retrospection.

Folklore is a surprise in so many ways. Not what I expected from Taylor Swift. Not actually what I expected from Aaron Dessner. What I find most interesting is that it feels like something of a departure for all parties. For me this continues with some of the sounds explored with The National’s I am Easy to Find, while it also captures some of Antonoff’s nuances.

More Lana Del Rey and less Carly Rae Jepsen.

Marginalia

Lyndsey McKenna

Folklore applies Swift’s signature lyrical style — richly and carefully detailed, rife with knowing callbacks — to a new palette informed by Dessner’s work. Skittering instrumentation proves a match for Swift’s use of speak-song cadence; meditative piano and horns offer a cinematic soundscape for explorations of character that move beyond autobiography.(source)

Beth Garrabrant

“Folklore” isn’t a folk record—it feels mostly genre-less, though it drifts toward gauzy, atmospheric pop—nor is it particularly autobiographical. Instead, Swift is interested in the idea of storytelling—of folklore, writ large—as a kind of sense-making process, a real and useful chance to order the world. How do we find meaning in the absurd or banal things that happen to us? Which narratives float us, which hobble us, and which are we totally free to reconstruct?(source)

Tom Breihan

With folklore, Swift has made a self-consciously minor transitional album, a grand readjustment. She’s nailed it. Swift, it turns out, is one of the few great pop chameleons to come along in recent years. She was great at gleaming Walmart country. She was great at bright-plastic global-domination ultra-pop. She was a bit less great at quasi-trap club music, but she made do. And now she’s great at lightly challenging soft-thrum dinner party music.(source)

Spencer Kornhaber

With its woodsy black-and-white art, not to mention its title, Folklore advertises itself as an expected pop-star maneuver: the “back to basics” or “stripped down” revelation. But the album’s more complex than that, and does not conjure the image of Swift slumped over a guitar for an acoustic set. With the producers Aaron Dessner (of the indie band The National) and Jack Antonoff (the rock singer turned pop-star whisperer), she swims through intricate classical and folk instrumentation largely organized by the gridded logic of electronic music. Melancholy singers of ’90s rock radio such as Natalie Merchant and Sarah McLachlan seem to guide Swift’s choices, as do contemporaries such as Lana Del Rey and Lorde. The overall effect is eerie, gutting, and nostalgic. If Folklore is not apt for summer fun, it is apt for a year in which rambunctious cheer and mass sing-alongs have few venues in which to thrive.(source)

Taylor Swift has stated that,

My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.

 

One of the interesting changes to music has been the space where it is created and recorded. On hold is Nils Frahm travelling to Spain to record in a well or Taylor Swift flying to New York because she woke up with an idea, instead most artists have been restricted to those resources they have at hand, something of a DIY approach. For some, this is fine, because this is the way it has always been. Take Jacob Collier for example, who seemingly has all he needs in his room, while for those artists he collaborates with, he connects remotely using Source Connect and captures their part that way.  For some the focus is about developing a space to flourish.
Liked Taylor Swift, Man (NPR.org)

In classic Swift fashion, the visual treatment is full of not-so-subtle nods. A prominent “No Scooters” sign on the 13th Street Station, with previous album titles and scrawled on the subway tile wall near a “Missing: If Found Return to Taylor Swift” sign, points directly to her latest object of ire, Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Ariana Grande, among others. There’s also the closing credits — “Directed by,” “Written by,” “Owned by,” and “Starring,” all attributed to Swift.

Liked Why Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun’s bad blood may reshape the industry (the Guardian)

Swift is not the first to threaten to re-record her works. Prince and Def Leppard did so after arguing they were being unfairly compensated by their original labels. But it is unheard of move for an artists at her zenith. “You are essentially splitting dollars,” said Sammataro. “You don’t know how the streaming service, the radio station or even your fans are going to consume it. Will they listen to the master or the re-recorded version?”

In the past artists might not have taken this route because marketing and distributing the new versions themselves would have been prohibitively expensive. In the digital age, and with her fanbase, no such issues will hold Swift back. Re-recording a couple of hits might once have satisfied Swift but with relations so strained she may feel like dealing Big Machine a bigger blow.

Replied to

I too agreed Taylor Swift’s performance was good and that the banter provided by the medium is always insightful.

Some other great series are: La Blogothèque’s Take Away Shows and Triple J’s Like a Version.

Replied to Total Request Live! Taylor, Lana, Kim, and More (with Sam Sanders) (Switched on Pop)

NPR’s Sam Sanders stops by to break down the tracks that Switched On listeners have been loving. Swedish dancefloor confessionals, songs that stop time, the specificity of Lana Del Ray, and the awkwardness of descending fourths: it’s all on the table in this freewheeling conversation of deep musical nerdiness.

Sam Sanders discussed Taylor Swift’s vocal up tick in Cruel Summer. This is something she does in Getaway Car. Both tracks feature collaboration with Jack Antonoff. Interestingly, this is a technique used in Antonoff’s own music with The Bleachers on tracks Everybody Loves Somebody and Don’t Take the Money. I therefore wonder if it is something that he has introduced to Swift or even vice versa?
Listened Lover (album) – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Lover is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on August 23, 2019, by Republic Records. As executive producer, Swift worked with producers Jack Antonoff, Joel Little, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Sounwave on the album. Described by Swift as a “love letter to love”, Lover celebrates the ups and downs of love and incorporates brighter, more cheerful tones, departing from the dark sounds of its predecessor, Reputation (2017). Musically, it is a pop, pop rock, electropop and synth-pop record that contains influences of country, dream pop, pop punk, funk and R&B.

I find Lover an intriguing album. What does one expect from a Taylor Swift album? How much can it really break ‘new’ ground? I think Nick Catucci captures the feeling best by describing it as an “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.” There are moments when it feels like a cover of Ryan Adam’s covering Taylor Swift, other times it feels like continuation of the pop journey of 1989. I am not sure if the album is ‘good enough’ to paper over the cracks in her persona. However, I feel that how one responds to music is somewhat personal. Overall, I think Kitty Empire sums the album up best when she suggests that, “an album so long is bound to be a mixed bag.”
Bookmarked Look What They Made Her Do: Taylor Swift To Re-Record Her Catalog (npr.org)

For artists, master recordings — the original recordings of musicians’ work — are vital musically, historically and financially. In most situations, labels own those masters. But many musicians, both prominent and independent ones, have tried to hang on to their masters. As Prince famously told Rolling Stone back in 1996, “If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.”

This is such an intriguing state of affairs, what is involved in ‘re-recording’ a record? Are there limits to what can be reproduced? What does this all say about the ‘masters’?
Liked Taylor Swift’s Music Ownership Controversy With Scooter Braun: What It Means and Why It Matters (Pitchfork)

With her open letter and the high-profile back-and-forth, Swift is bringing visibility to one of the music industry’s longest standing issues. And while it’s not a new problem, Swift’s discussion of it was enough to encourage artists including Sky Ferreira and Halsey to come forward about their own difficulties with label deals and ownership.