On July 23rd, 2020, Taylor Alison Swift woke up and had to make a choice. And she chose chaos. She took to Instagram, of all places, to announce her eighth studio album, folklore. And the music world and pop culture world responded as anyone would, going into an absolute frenzy. After all, this was not a move people could have anticipated from Taylor Swift. Before that, Swift committed heavily to the traditional album rollout for pop girlies. The press, the performances, the music videos with easter eggs in them for dedicated fans to find – she did all of it. More than just doing it, she went so hard that over time she became the blueprint for what you were supposed to do. Her most recent album was Lover and the era that accompanied it was colorful, campy and carefully rolled out. Swift did a full 180 with folklore – it was completely unexpected, with a laid back, cabin in the woods aesthetic. And it was great – and that was supposed to be the end of it. But Taylor Swift had other plans. She did it again. Swift announced her ninth LP, evermore, less than five months after folklore had come out. Again, she announced it via Instagram, saying, “To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. […] So I just kept writing them.” And so evermore was released the day after the Instagram post and two days before Swift’s birthday.
Anyways, evermore is a kind of continuation of its predecessor, folklore – a spin-off, so to speak. It builds on the genres and aesthetics of folklore and incorporates the same character building. She continues to use the third person and write from the perspective of different characters. However, unlike the dreamier, symbolism-riddled tone of folklore, evermore brings refreshing boldness to the table. Swift tends to be more upfront about feelings instead of beating around the bush. Because of this, the songs on evermore hold more emotional power. If folklore was a romanticization of certain feelings, evermore is the manifestation of those feelings. That does not mean that the storytelling was any less impressive, though. The songs in evermore are still rife with Swift’s signature wordplay – the title track of the album features the lyric “whether weather be the storm”. Swift gets more descriptive than in folklore, choosing to focus more on outside surroundings in songs like no body, no crime featuring pop-rock trio HAIM.
While evermore is a continuation of folklore, one thing that sets evermore apart from its predecessor is the diverse range of genres that inspired the album. long story short sounds like a song from one of Swift’s pop albums. ivy is a call back to her country days. This drawing from Swift’s past while remaining true to the folky sounds of the present ensures that there is something in evermore for every Swiftie. Overall, the album is a remarkable body of work; I would argue that there are no skips on the LP. However, some tracks stood out to me especially. champagne problems with its catchy chorus and emotion-filled lyrics is a go-to for those days when you just want to lay down somewhere and cry. The production on closure is experimental without being overwhelming. The storytelling in no body, no crime makes it a track to remember. It reminds me of those slightly watered- down true crime novels I used to read when I was younger, minus the watered-down part. Swift manages to be descriptive while leaving room for interpretation in all the right places.
evermore, like its sister record folklore, was met with much critical acclaim. Metacritic, a website that aggregates scores from music sites into a score out of 100, gave evermore a score of 85, indicating universal acclaim. It performed well commercially too; it sold one million copies in its first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. evermore made Swift the third woman to have eight consecutive number-one albums. With folklore at number 3, she also became the first woman to have two albums in the top three at the same time. Swift also became the woman with the most songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with 128. None of this success is shocking; as soon as the album came out, nobody could get enough of it. Everybody from the average Swiftie to well-known musicians and actors had marvelous things to say about it. Hayley Williams of Paramore called evermore the “f*ckin coolest album Taylor’s ever made”. Country legend Dolly Parton offered Swift her congratulations on the LP’s release. Actor Kiernan Shipka kept it simple, tweeting “EVERMORE” followed by a series of exclamation marks, which I think accurately described how most people felt.
Unfortunately, the praises Swift garnered won’t translate into awards any time soon, as evermore was released after the submission period for most major music awards. But it’s okay; patience is a virtue – 2022 will come, and it will be Taylor Swift’s year. evermore will undoubtedly be nominated for some Grammy awards. The LP itself is a shoo-in for both Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. I wouldn’t call evermore a pop record, but the Grammys don’t really have the best track record for accuracy, so I digress. If it were nominated more accurately, I see it going up for Best Folk Album. I also see no body, no crime being nominated in the Best Country Duo or Group Performance and Best Country Song categories, which would be a callback to Swift’s country days.
The fi first time I tried to listen to Taylor Swift outside of her radio hits, I couldn’t do it. This was during her Reputation era, and the aesthetic she embodied during that time seemed a bit forced to me. It felt like Swift was mainly doing what she thought would sell, and it showed. But with evermore, everything seems so natural. It’s like she was destined to be making this type of music. She kind of ascended when she made this album in my opinion. I don’t think I’ve seen a pop star that comfortable while taking a risk since Ariana Grande released her critically acclaimed 2018 album, Sweetener, which is her best album in my humble opinion. Even if she decides never to go this route again, people won’t look at this era as a quick cash grab or a seemingly innovative idea gone wrong. Swift was in her element when she made evermore, and that’s why I like it so much. But I hope she doesn’t pull this a third time; I don’t think I could handle it.