Swifties, rejoice. After a series of online teasers that sent fans into a frenzy, Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon’s Big Red Machine project has released “Renegade,” the first of two collaborations with Taylor Swift that will be found on the group’s second album, “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?,” due Aug. 27 via 37d03d/Jagjaguwar. A Michael Brown-directed video for “Renegade” is also now online.
As previously reported, Dessner co-produced and co-wrote Swift’s chart-topping 2020 albums “Folklore” and “Evermore,” the former of which won the album of the year Grammy in March. “Renegade,” a Swift/Dessner co-write, was recorded that same week in Los Angeles and features additional contributions by Vernon on vocals and guitar, Dessner’s brother and National bandmate Bryce on strings and drumming by Sō Percussion’s Jason Treuting.
Continuing in the more musically adventurous vein of Swift’s recent work with Dessner, “Renegade” tugs on the heartstrings with couplets such as “Are you really gonna talk about timing in times like these / And let your damage damage me / Carry your baggage up my street / And make me your future history.” Addressing a once or future love, she asks, “Is it insensitive for me to say / Get your shit together so I can love you?”
“I can’t believe I get to work with Aaron Dessner,” Swift said in an Instagram post. “When Aaron came into my life, I was ushered into his world of free-flowing creativity where you don’t overthink, you just make music. His generosity of spirit and humility bleeds into every part of his life, and that’s why so many artists have jumped at the chance to be a part of his collaborative project, Big Red Machine. A song we wrote (which also features Justin Vernon) is out today! It’s called ‘Renegade.’ Thanks Aaron for asking me to show up at your party.
Said Dessner, “While we were making ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ last year, Taylor and I sometimes talked about experimenting and writing songs together some day for Big Red Machine. Making music with your friends just to make it — that’s how Big Red Machine started and has grown — and that’s how ‘Renegade’ came about, too. This song was something we wrote after we finished ‘Evermore’ and it dawned on us that this was a Big Red Machine song. Taylor’s words hit me so hard when I heard her first voice memo and still do, every time. I’m so grateful to Taylor for continuing to share her incredible talent with me, and that we are still finding excuses to make music together.”
Earlier this week, Big Red Machine gave listeners the first taste of “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?” by releasing the tracks “Latter Days” featuring Anaîs Mitchell and the acoustic “The Ghost of Cincinnati,” boasting Dessner’s first lead vocal. The new album also sports contributions from Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, Sharon Van Etten, Ben Howard, Lisa Hannigan and Naeem, among others.
Said Dessner, “With everyone that’s on this record, there’s an openness, a creative generosity and an emotional quality that connects it all together.”