Although some people might not want to think back to the time-stop that was Summer 2020, I want to quickly mention July. Funnily enough I wasn’t doing much of significance, maybe planning yet another Zoom call or reluctantly helping my sister bake. I do remember, however, where I was when Taylor Swift revealed she was dropping her first surprise album of the year. I was laying on my living room floor scrolling through TikTok, and I screamed.
I called my flatmate Eve and we gushed in utter shock about the upcoming album, Folklore, making predictions for which tracks we thought would be our favourites. Now just for context, there are few things I love unconditionally in life but Taylor Swift is one of them. The album itself was a whimsical storytelling experience that transported you to dreamscapes. It was a musical shift for Taylor away from elaborate pop, which showed her lyrical genius in a year where we all really needed a good cry. I don’t think it’s uncommon to have an album that defines your year, but Folklore came at a time when I really needed it. It was safe to say that that was the first time Taylor Swift saved 2020.
Flash forward to December. Spotify Unwrapped just revealed I was in the 0.1% of Taylor Swift’s top listeners, one of the greatest achievements of my life. I didn’t even mind that most of my top songs were Taylor Swift alongside show tunes and other pop hits (I want to say that’s 2020s fault but it’s really not). I was just in love with her 8th studio album. Then, on the day before my last exam, I was reviewing my notes on the kitchen table when I got a notification from Instagram. Taylor Swift was posting again. My already stressed, sleep-deprived self couldn’t quite take the shock.
Swifties out there will know that Taylor is rerecording her masters right now – despite her claiming she has “not a lot going on at the moment” – so I assumed she was making an announcement along those lines. When I opened Instagram, I saw the new collection of cryptic posts that eloquently mirrored her Folklore announcement; I knew.
At midnight, she would be dropping another surprise album. Her second of the year. I yet again texted Eve in shock. Almost crying. Shaking. My dad was on a work call at the time and as soon as he came down the stairs, I gushed my excitement and shock in a five-minute-long speech. He started to chuckle and told me I have no life. He wasn’t wrong, but at least my mum pretended to be a lot more excited for me.
The album evermore is a sister album to and a continuation of folklore. It moves Taylor further from the rivers of pop and into alt-rockier waters. The thing that defines this album is her melodious character studies. If it’s not the girlfriend rejecting the proposal in Champagne Problems, it’s the recent divorcée in happiness or the moving twist on the festive tis the damn season, with old flames rekindling in their small town just for the holidays before they both go back to their separate lives. Another gorgeous tale of compassion comes in ivy, revealing a forbidden fairy-tale stopped by promises to someone else.
She emotionally pays tribute to her grandmother Marjorie in the titled track, as she had also paid tribute to her grandfather on the track epiphany on folklore. To contrast, she flips the mood with the track Dorothea, creating another tale of a stars experience with fortune, framed from the perspective of her old small-town friend. Not to mention each track is true to her past work, containing bridges you cant help but scream, proving yet again Taylor Swift is as good as any architect.
The album’s aesthetic blends perfectly together creating an excellent opportunity for Taylor to create more charmingly soothing collabs. She again duets with Bon Iver on the title track, evermore. Similarly, she duets with the National’s Matt Berninger on the track Coney Island in a tragic yet comforting tale. The best collab on the album comes in the form of a darker story resemblant of Carrie Underwood’s Before he Cheats, with a saga fueled by infidelity and two separate murders with backing vocals provided by Haim sisters Danielle and Este. It’s fun, its catchy and it’s a huge serotonin boaster. Who doesn’t love a whodunnit?
Taylor herself admits “I have no idea what will come next”, but one thing that’s for sure is that her ability to change and move between genres stands strong. While some of us spent lockdown on our couches, Taylor Swift created two critically acclaimed albums. As far as productivity goes, I would say that’s really quite something. True to her word, Taylor Swift does indeed “come back stronger than a 90s trend”.