Taylor Swift has surprise-dropped a brand new album for the second time this year. ‘evermore’, announced just 16 hours before its release, has been dubbed ‘folklore’s sister record’ by Swift herself and follows the same ‘imaginary/not imaginary’ theme.
The opening track and lead single, ‘willow’, reminds me of a village dance centuries ago — assisted by the magical music video, which serves as a continuation of ‘cardigan’ from folklore, bringing the story to life and offering references to fame and previous songs. “I come back stronger than a ‘90s trend” is simply iconic.
‘champagne problems’ follows longtime college sweethearts and the shock when she denies his hand in marriage; it details the disappointment from his family and the events that will ensue. She sings: “But you’ll find the real thing instead, she’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred”, arguably some of the best lyrics on the album.
More upbeat than it’s predecessor, ‘gold rush’ features enchanting vocals as she depicts a daydream she gets lost in for a moment – the jealousy of his beauty and anger because she wants him, along with everyone else. “What must it be like to grow up that beautiful?” shows how out of reach he feels. The intro and outro are particularly enthralling.
A song about a woman going back to her hometown for the holidays and reconciling with an old flame, ’tis the damn season’ brings out the ‘will they, won’t they?’ in all of us. “And the road not taken looks real good” makes you think about the choices in your past and whether you made the right decision or not.
Swift’s staple vulnerable and emotional track five continues with ‘tolerate it’ — her haunting vocals making us endure the same tragic pain she is as her lover doesn’t even pay attention to her. The emotions pass through as she sings: “I know my love should be celebrated, but you tolerate it”.
Inspired by true crime podcasts and documentaries binged through lockdown, ‘no body, no crime’ was solely written by Taylor and features her close friends the HAIM sisters. The murder mystery song manages to fit an entire story into less than four minutes and keep the listener engaged. She’s determined to solve the crime, singing: “no body, no crime, but I ain’t lettin’ up until the day I die”, as we’re walked through the facts.
‘happiness’, finished just a week before release, is harrowing yet optimistic as she dissects the memories of her past relationship, while also making sure to remember the good times. As she sings in the chorus: “there’ll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you, both of these things can be true, there is happiness” — meaning that just because it ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t great.
Reminiscent of her childhood, an old friend of ‘dorothea’ speaks to her and of their moments shared when they were younger. Taylor takes us down the timeline of characters she’s created, showing that their bond will never disappear: “and if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know, you know you’ll always know me”.
‘coney island’, featuring The National, is almost like watching a film about lovers who are distanced apart and think back to the times they shared in the neighbourhood. Talk of their old spot, birthdays, and an accident take us down memory lane with them; they feel remorse and guilt for not trying harder to make it work – for not making each other their “centerfold”. Both narrators sing of being “lost again with no surprises”.
Folk sounding ‘ivy’ is a pretty peek into falling in love, with sweet lyrics like “my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand” and “your ivy grows… now I’m covered in you”. Extremely poetic and enjoyable, it transports you to the narrator’s mind. Created with Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, her collaborators for these past two records, it’s no surprise that it represents their storytelling so well.
‘cowboy like me’ sees Swift returning to her country roots, as you could guess from the title, and takes me to a slow dance at the end of a disco. “And the skeletons in both our closets plotted hard to fuck this up” applies to a lot of relationships, even friendships, and adds to the song and album’s ability to become your own.
The hopeful anthem ‘long story short’ is catchy and uplifting from the first beat, and brings a sense of peace as she finds her happy ending. Discussing the breakdown of her reputation and the wrong loves along the way in one of the more personal tracks on the album, Swift closes the song with “long story short, it was a bad time, long story short, I survived” which is one of my favourite lines on the album.
‘marjorie’, a tribute to Taylor’s late grandmother (whose vocals can be heard in the background) is tear-jerking, beautiful and moving. “I should’ve asked you questions, I should’ve asked you how to be, asked you to write it down for me, should’ve kept every grocery store receipt, ‘cause every scrap of you would be taken from me” is heartbreaking and relatable for anyone who has experienced loss. This one is especially meaningful for me because I’ve watched my great-grandmother lose more and more of herself each day to Alzheimer’s disease, and I regret not asking about every single story – or even the ones I’d heard dozens of times, just to be reminded of how she used to be.
Exactly as described, ‘closure’ is about closing the chapter and ending up no longer needing reassurance from an ex to move on: “I know that it’s over, I don’t need your closure”. She is okay where she is and without him, singing “I’m fine with my spite, and my tears, and my beers and my candles”, finally coming to terms with that part of her life.
Title and closing track ‘evermore’, featuring Bon Iver, takes us through the seasons of depression they’ve experienced and how they thought it was never going to end. One of the best songs on the record, in my opinion, the two voices mould together wonderfully to inspire the listener. Beginning with “I had a feeling so peculiar that this pain would be for evermore” and ending with “this pain wouldn’t be for evermore” sums everything up completely.
I could honestly talk about this album for hours — the complexity, pure escapism, songwriting genius, wistful melodies, and Taylor Swift’s ever-improving vocals are just divine. ‘evermore’ is charming and delightful in every way, and shines proudly next to the equally exquisite ‘folklore.’
Words by Erin Memmott.