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Rolling Stone Names Fearless (Taylor’s Version) As One of the Best Albums of 2021 So Far

This year has already given us a slew of excellent releases, including breakthrough debuts from Olivia Rodrigo, Arlo Parks and Girl In Red, revelatory R&B from Jazmine Sullivan and Dawn Richard, thrilling indie-rock from Julien Baker and Dry Cleaning, and excellent new work from reliable stars like Eric Church, the Foo Fighters, and Lana Del Rey.

Swift begins the massive undertaking of remaking her back catalog with Fearless, the album that established her as a crossover star. Unlike most rerecordings, this time the new versions somehow sound less slick than the original. Her voice feels lower in the mix this time around, but for the most part she’s gone to extreme lengths to mimic the polished Nashville textures and soundscapes of the first Fearless; she brought back several of the album’s session musicians and even recruited Colbie Caillat (a primary influence on the 2008 version of Fearless) to redo her backing vocals on “Breathe.” Swift has clearly studied her vocal intonations on Fearless, down to the awkwardly recreated laughs and hiccups sprinkled throughout “Hey Stephen.” But her thirtysomething voice is richer, deeper, and more sure of itself. She embodies her earlier country affectations but only to a point: No longer does she try to make “back” rhyme with “laugh” on the deep cut “Come in With the Rain.” J.B.

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Rolling Stone Names Fearless (Taylor’s Version) As One of the Best Albums of 2021 So Far

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