A surprise sister album to the enchanting folklore, one of music’s most loved starlets Taylor Swift weaves lucid tales of love, infidelity, and closure on December’s evermore. Announced just hours before its release, the record dismantles the outdated canons of genre and industry with startling grace, and made for a riveting dissection by Amrit Virdi.
On Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album, adding to her evolving discography, we wander further into the folklorian woods as Swift admits that her and her team, including Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver “just couldn't not stop writing songs.” A form of much-needed escapism, evermore takes Swift back to her acoustic-driven country roots as she dabbles in the character-driven, mythical world of folklore once more.
Accompanied by a magical, movie-like music video rife with glittering golden animations and a transporting Disney-like ambience, lead single willow kicks off the record in fine style. Seemingly a love song written for Swift’s partner Joe Alwyn, who also contributed to the writing of folklore under the alias of William Bowery, it introduces the themes of devotion, desire and nature that reappear throughout the record. With acoustic guitar lines resembling soft raindrops and stunning lyrics peppered with metaphor, there is divine beauty in its simplicity, and this melds into later tracks such as tolerate it and happiness. The understated production gives Swift a chance to shine both sonically and lyrically, and upon the first listen, the former's lyrics of “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky, Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life” are amongst the records most stirring.
‘evermore takes Swift back to her country roots as she dabbles in the character-driven, mythical world of folklore once more.’
As Swift ventures further into the indie realm, a lively selection of intrinsically crafted collaborations aid her musical experimentation on the record. Amongst her most dynamic works to date, the genre-bending sentiment of evermore leads to a vivid collision of the worlds of pop, indie and country. This is no more apparent than on the title track, where Vernon and Swift flawlessly work atop a soft piano backing and call-and-response; perhaps even rivalling the remarkable standard set by their previous collaborative track exile. Evoking pathos in the listener and whisking them on rollercoaster which descends to an unlikely crescendo with the tracks sombre ending, the pair work weightlessly with the music to create remarkable sonic moments in time.
Scintillating mid-album track coney island sees Swift instead join forces with Cincinnati rock titans The National in a halcyon, lyric-focused track. Though charmingly sweet and mellow, it seems to fade into the background after a few listens. A stand-out moment on the record, however, comes in the form of the eerie country collaboration with Los Angeles sister trio Haim. Revenge driven with a conspicuous plot, and destined for the background of a crime drama, no body, no crime brings out the best of Swift’s inescapable country roots, and is worlds away from the cheesy pop tones of 2014’s 1989. Propelled by rich, vivid storytelling, the likes of Betty and James curated in the folklore world are joined by a new cast of characters, which seem set to reappear in Swift’s future works.
With timely festive tones, ‘tis the damn season contrastingly details the story of hometown love; introducing the quixotic tale of Dorothea who later cinches her own track as her former beau offers their perspective on the whirlwind romance. Whilst the fictional folklorian woods make for a cohesive concept album, references to Swift’s personal life also don’t go amiss, and the mid-track marjorie pays homage to her late opera-singing grandmother of the same name. Rich, rousing vocal runs dance over a whimsical acoustic guitar backdrop as the Nashville starlet reflects poignantly on their memories together – it is a fitting ode to reality on a record that flits perpetually between fact and fantasy.
Therefore, with folklore sitting arguably amongst 2020’s hottest albums of the year, high expectations were placed upon the breaking announcement of evermore. Yet once again, a discerning Taylor Swift, now with more than fifteen years of songwriting experience, didn’t fail to disappoint – living thoroughly up to her instagram bio claiming to “come back stronger than a 90’s trend.”
Written by: Amrit Virdi
Edited by: Alex Duke