The synth-heavy beats of Taylor Swift’s latest album Reputation might make you forget she was, at one point, a country artist. And not just a country artist: the country artist. Swift’s first four albums—Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, and Red—were all best-sellers and heavily acoustic in their DNA. The light production of the songs compelled listeners to really zero in on the lyrics that have defined Swift’s career.
Of course, the lyrics on her last two pop efforts—1989 and Reputation—are smart too, but they’re sometimes lost in the albums’ glossy hooks. It’s difficult to focus on the lyrical poignancy of “Out of the Woods” when all you want to do is dance. That’s why “New Year’s Day,” the only ballad on Reputation, was one of the album’s breakout hits. It harkened back to Swift’s older days, when her music felt much more intimate, more personal.
And she just gave fans another taste of that era via a song she wrote dropped by country music duo Sugarland today (April 20). Called “Babe,” the song is lovely: an acoustic, midtempo delight with a sugary-sweet chorus. If that sounds like classic Taylor Swift to you, that’s because it is: “Babe” was originally intended for Swift’s 2012 album Red, but she left it on the cutting room floor. Several years later, Sugarland reunited and started working on a record—and Swift offered them the song.
Check out the song, below:
“She was excited that we were getting back together. She said, ‘Hey, I have a song…’ and we said ‘Yep!’” Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland told reporters backstage at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday (April 15), according to People.
The song, naturally, is sending Swift fans into a tailspin for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s a friendly reminder that Swift is arguably at her strongest when she’s country. (No shade to 1989 and Reputation, which are great.) “Babe” is taking fans back to Red, specifically, which many consider to be one of her best but wasn’t received as enthusiastically as her other albums. It’s difficult to forget Swift’s face when Red lost the Album of the Year Grammy in 2014, an incident that, in many ways, led to Swift’s pop reinvention. “Babe” is giving Red the shine it deserved.
And here’s what fans are saying about it:
The “Old Taylor” may be dead, but “Country Taylor” certainly is not.