After living pretty much all of her adult life as one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, Taylor Swift continues to deliver. Her unprecedented productivity of late has given breathless (exhausted) Swifties content to sink their teeth into for years to come.
Of course, the circumstances that have led Taylor Swift to rerecord and rerelease her first six albums are not great. But they have given her a chance to reclaim the narrative, along her own literal work, and give her old songs a shiny new lick of paint, too. Along with old tracks fans know and love are some previously unreleased gems Swift has fished out "from the vault". Each 'Taylor's Version' of every album – Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and reputation – will come with unreleased tracks from their respective studio sessions, giving fans a clearer glimpse into Swift's state of mind at the time.
She's essentially adding entirely new chapters to the Taylor Swift canon. So, I've decided to rank each of Swift's "From The Vault" tracks as they're released. Consider this your guide to discovering these new depths to the discography of the biggest artist in the world.
6. "We Were Happy"
"We Were Happy" showcases Swift's ability to write a lovelorn ballad – an expertise we know ahem, All Too Well. This is Taylor Swift Songwriting 101, right down to the climactic bridge. This isn't to discredit Swift at all, considering the song was written almost 20 years ago, but suggests this track should be considered a blueprint for what she would become. I'm not sure about Kieth Urban's background vocals here, either; they sort of just linger. As the track continues, it leads you to think she's about to roll into an explosive and cinematic final run of the chorus. Instead it left me hanging out for more.
5. "That's When (feat. Keith Urban)"
Chucking a "(feat. Keith Urban)" onto any song lifts the country appeal tenfold, and at least his presence is worth noting here, but for me "That's When" still falls just short of greatness. The song is windswept and tender, but it's also one that would benefit from Swift's long-gone Southern twang that existed in her earliest work. It makes you wonder what "That's When" would have sounded like had it been released with Fearless in the first place.
4. "You All Over Me (feat. Maren Morris)"
"You All Over Me" opens with delicately plucked strings before plunging headfirst into a harmonica-driven swandive. The whole song is spotlit and intimate, and, like "That's When", feels like it could have benefited from Taylor's heavy country twang of her earlier years. Of course, Swift still lacquers the song in the same sense of whimsy, wonder and romance that made her two most recent albums, folklore and evermore, so magical. Maren Morris plays a supporting role in the song, delivering a depth to the chorus that helps it shine. Naturally, the song also features some paint-by-numbers Swiftisms that will make for great Insta captions. My favourite? "No amount of freedom gets you clean, I've still got you all over me."
3. "Don't You"
Despite "Don't You" being written more than a decade ago, this track proves that a Taylor Swift x Jack Antonoff collaboration will always sound fresh and forward-thinking. Love it.
2. "Bye Bye Baby"
Once you look past the similarities between "Bye Bye Baby" and Michelle Branch's "Goodbye To You" (it's unavoidable) you can truly appreciate the final song from Fearless (Taylor's Version) the way it deserves. Taylor Swift being such a force for so long, it's easy to forget that she was once a young artist sourcing inspiration from whoever waltzed through her headphones. "Bye Bye Baby" is an amalgamation of some of pop-country's biggest stars – including Michelle Branch – and given a Taylor Swift makeover. Her voice hits sensitive depths associated with The Chicks, along with the euphoric power and self-assurance of Shania Twain. The bridge builds and builds, Swift getting more emotional and exasperated with every word, before she boils over in a cathartic and evocative final run of the bleeding chorus.
1. "Mr. Perfectly Fine"
Sure, 2021 Taylor Swift has moved beyond the savage, cheeky break-up ballads that typified the earliest part of her mainstream career, and we appreciate her evolution. But, fuck, it feels good to dip back into those OG roots back with "Mr. Perfectly Fine". It's warm and it's hazy, but is dipped in the same furious and passionate venom as other country hits, like Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats". "Mr. Perfectly Fine" is scorned, sure, but Swift sings through the pain and the heartache with laughter and sarcasm. She tries to convince you she's over the "Mr." in question, but it feels like she's strumming through held-back tears and clenched teeth. There's complexity and substance to Swift's songwriting here that the world would go on to celebrate across the decade after it was written; she's always been a superstar.
"Mr. Perfectly Fine" is catchy yet vulnerable, the junction that has formed the crux of Swift's songwriting throughout her career. Listening to "Mr. Perfectly Fine", it's incredible to think Taylor has been sitting on a gem like this for so long. We can only hope that the re-releases of all her old albums – Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and reputation – feature unreleased material as terrific as this.
Listen to Taylor Swift's first rerecorded album, Fearless (Taylor's Version), here.