Back on July 24, Taylor Swift released a surprise album, folklore, which was her first album released through Republic Records, an independent label. I was excited for the album as I enjoyed her previous albums, such as Lover, Red and 1989. It was a complete change from her catchy poppy and country tunes about breakups to a more chill, somber and folky style. I did not like the drastic change when I first listened to folklore, expressing my disappointment in my review.
However, several of my friends encouraged me to listen to the album again and focus on its lyrics. I did so and my thoughts on the album changed for the better. While the first half was much better than the second half, folklore was a beautiful piece as Swift deals with heartbreak in a more mature and real way. “exile” is a masterpiece as Swift pairs with Bon Iver to express the sorrow and disappointment of a failed relationship. It is now my favorite track Swift has ever made, bringing me to tears nearly every time I listen to it. “august,” “betty” and “cardigan” are all brilliantly written songs which hit me on many emotional levels. I now give folklore a 7/10.
After re-listening to folklore, I was excited to check out Swift’s newest surprise album to release in 2020, evermore, folklore‘s sister album. While “exile” and “august” are my two favorite songs between these two albums, I prefere evermore as the quality is more consistent and an improvement on its predecessor.
Lyrically, evermore is an improvement as the messages feel deeper and more emotionally succinct. There is so much meaning in this album and because of this, I will discuss each song.
The album begins with “willow,” a simple intro which discusses Swift wanting to just live life with her loved one. What makes the song beautiful is the lovely rhyming in the chorus, expressing her desires in the track. “champagne problems” has a nice consistent piano flow as she reflects on leaving her lover after she rejected his proposal at a party.
When evermore really hooked me for the first time was listening to “gold rush,” my favorite track on the album. It starts off with ambience as Swift is in a dreamy state. Then, Swift snaps out of it as she starts realizing she does not have to compete with other women for one person that everyone wants. It reminds me of high school as everyone wanted to ask out the most popular girls, but some realized it was pointless as the competition wasn’t worth it. The vocal flow is amazing as well, cementing this as one of Swift’s best ever songs.
There are several songs on this album which require multiple listenings to grasp the true message of the song. “tis the damn season” is one of these songs as it took me several listens to understand how the song is about an unhealthy on-and-off romance. She is continually drawn to it while leaving her already comfortable positions. It is a beautiful tale about wanting something so bad even though it’s not the best for you, a relatable message for many.
“tolerate it” is a brutal tale about a distant marriage. On average, people start to grow distant in a marriage after seven years and this song is all about this scary scenario. Swift appeals to the tragedy and sadness of the distance in a marriage, making “tolerate it” a sad listen. One line hit me on a deep level as it made me afraid of this happening to me one day: “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky. Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life.” This was beautifully written, bringing me to tears when I first heard this piece.
After this comes Swift’s most unique song ever, “no body, no crime” featuring HAIM. It is about a true crime thriller as Swift and her friend, Este, kill Este’s husband as he cheated on her and let a mistress move into their house. They dispose of his body, allowing them to wipe their conscience clean as “no body, no crime.” This song is awesome as Swift writes a crime-thriller with satisfaction in her voice and it works well, especially with the sirens to open the song. HAIM’s vocals are the cherry on top in one of the best songs on evermore.
“happiness” is a song which produces sadness, not happiness. One line sums up how painfully relatable it was: “There’ll be happiness after me. But there was happiness because of you.” As someone who went through a breakup, this was something I had to deal with and it was tough. I struggled to move on from the memories of my relationship as I had to push forward and live a happy life without it. This piece just shows how relatable this album is for me and many others.
“dorothea” is like “betty” from folklore, which is Swift reminiscing over a same-sex love interest that got away from her. While nothing special, I love the tie into folklore, making these two works feel connected. “coney island” is the worst piece on the track as the message is incredibly simple with some corny and cringy vocals from Swift and The National.
“ivy” is another layered song lyrically which took multiple listens to grasp the message. I think it is one of the best songs on the album vocally as Swift expresses her reality of cheating in a marriage. It is a tragically beautiful piece, displaying how fragile the commitment of marriage can be.
“cowboy like me” is another cleverly-written track as Swift meets someone in a hotel that is trying to swindle the rich like her. However, they ended up in a relationship but it fell apart as they tried to swindle each other. Swift reflects on not wanting love again after this. This is a great story, providing a sad but fun listen at the same time.
The next three tracks are clear references to events in Swift’s life. “long story short” describes her relief as her relationship with Joe Alwyn helped her move on from her feud with Kanye West in the mid-2010s. “marjorie” is a song honoring her late grandmother, expressing how she feels like she is still there with her. As someone who has lost loved ones, this is a painfully relatable song. Lastly, “closure” is a diss on her previous association with former talent manager, Scooter Braun, who she feuded with. She blasts fake niceties, providing a unique twist on the concept of closure, an aspect many people feel strongly about one way or another. All these make evermore an album which connects us listeners with her life more than any album before folklore, a strong aspect of the album.
Bon Iver returns to sing another powerful love ballad with Swift to finish the album in “evermore.” This is an even more somber song than “exile,” as it deals with the specific pains of the loss of a loved one. It feels like the pain can last forever, a message this song emphasizes. Speaking from experience, I completely relate as I suffered many long nights in pain about what could have been. What makes this song special, however, is the hopeful message at the end that the pain won’t last evermore. It is the best end to an album I have ever heard, leaving me in tears when it was over.
Overall, evermore is another fantastic album Taylor Swift has released. It improves on folklore with more consistency in quality and even better songwriting. Swift is a legendary songwriter and this album proves this. I highly recommend checking out this album as when you listen closely to the lyrics, it may leave an impact emotionally.