Taylor Swift continues her pop-folk chapter with surprise sister album “evermore” (review)
December 11, 2020
Taylor Swift has done it again. Another surprise album appeared just when the world seemed to need it most. Swift announced her ninth studio album, “evermore” via social media posts on Dec. 10, and it was released at midnight on Dec. 11. While Swift is known to drop easter eggs in everything she does, I never anticipated this. With the surprise release of “folklore” in July, her upcoming re-recordings, “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” on Disney Plus and another new album, let’s just say Swifties have had a crazy couple of months.
Featuring collaborations with Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff and many others, the album contains 15 tracks with two bonus songs. It is confirmed to be the sister record of the other album released in quarantine, “folklore”. While the two form together an iconic Swift era, I think the reason for calling them sisters and not twins is very apparent. The theme of storytelling weaves throughout both, but “evermore” makes its own statement with its refreshing variety. While “folklore” holds a melancholic resentment for life and relationships, evermore unravels into a story of upbeat healing.
Personally, when the album was announced, I felt unprepared to memorize and obsess over another fifteen songs; I was still reeling over the lyrical masterpiece of “folklore”. Yet, as soon as I hit play, I knew we were all in good hands.
Kicking off with “willow”, listeners were thrown into an oceanic, dream escape with the echoes of steel drums and sharp guitar plucking. During the first listen, this beginning track really threw me for a loop. It blew apart any expectations I had for her opening and set the bar high for the rest of the album. The music video set to the song was also quite mesmerizing as Swift showed us exactly what she has had planned for quite a while now. It definitely felt like a sequel to her previous music video for “cardigan” as she included direct motifys.
Following the strong start, “champagne problems” stood out with its melodic piano accompaniment and its sorrowful storyline. Swift turned a delicate song about a rejected proposal into a full narrative, making us feel every ounce of that heartbreak. Finding the eye in the storm of the tearful ballad, I was excited to see William Bowery in the writing credits for this song and even a few more on the album. Confirmed in the “folklore: long pond studio sessions”, Bowery is actually a pseudonym for Swift’s partner Joe Alwyn.
I did not expect Swift to go farther down the country path in this album, but I was quickly proven wrong. In collaboration with sister trio, Haim, her sixth track, “no body, no crime” has a southern flair with a storyline to take us down a dark, murderous trail. Track eleven, “cowboy like me”, channels the same country vibe but shifts from high stakes to a more mellow, slowed ballad. It was definitely fun to hear Swift fall back into her country roots and then let them shine through in multiple moments on this record.
While the middle most core of the album is filled with beautiful narratives and lyrical geniuses, the concluding track of “evermore” stands as the strongest, most defining on the album. Track fifteen, titled the same name as the album, has a simultaneous, indescribable sense of both nostalgia and new beginnings. Bon Iver’s appearance on this track transforms the heightened moments into an entire new realm and sound without being startling. Even when the bridge took a different feel than the rest of the track, Swift still found a way to take us home by reinstating the soft piano melody to draw a conclusion to her ninth album. The track is definitely one of my favorites on the album and is my idea of the perfect ending.
Unfortunately, some tracks didn’t rise to the same standard for me as other standouts on the album. “coney island” featuring The National felt low energy and didn’t have any sort of build that I was hoping for. Yet, after the second listen, it definitely grew on me with its simplicity. One track did not have the same luxury of getting better after multiple listens. “closure” felt like I was trapped inside a computer chip with a beautiful song playing in the background, miles away. The instrumental choices were jarring and felt misplaced in this track. I hate to admit it, but “closure” would probably get skipped if it came up on my shuffle. All that being said, they aren’t bad songs, they just came up short compared to others.
My favorites include “evermore”, “willow”, “‘tis the damn season”, “tolerate it”, “happiness”, “ivy”, and “marjorie”. Because this is based upon my initial reaction, my opinions are bound to change as I continue to dive into the world this album creates. Overall, this album surprised me, aside from the fact that it was a surprise. Each track felt independent and incorporated different elements of Swift’s strengths. While this is a sister album, it made a definition for itself with its unique musical moments and intricate lyrical storylines. I will say that I do think “folklore” was more consistent and memorable in its track list, making it my top choice over this latest release. I don’t think “evermore” will ever beat out my love for favorites like “Speak Now”, “Reputation” and “Red” or even come near the top of my album rankings, but it was still exciting to get a whole lot of new content from Swift.
“It feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or travel further into the forest of the music,” Swift said. “We chose to wander deeper in.”