Taylor Swift ventures deeper into the woods on 'evermore'
“Above all, evermore is a message of hope.”
Surprising fans with a massive release isn’t normally something that artists do. A lead time of months and releasing promotional singles in that time has become the traditional way to go. But in 2020, artists have shrugged off tradition, favoring surprise releases with shorter lead times. No artist has embraced this more than Taylor Swift. Her massively successful surprise album, folklore, dazzled fans and critics alike with careful piano melodies and softer vocals. It sounded like Swift herself was reaching through the song to give you a hug in a cozy cardigan. Now she’s returned again with her ninth studio album, evermore, a sister piece to folklore.
evermore explores a new facet of Swift’s imagination with fellow folklore collaborators Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, and her boyfriend Joe Alwyn (under the pseudonym William Bowery). A pair of con artists who find an unlikely match to the mysterious Dorothea, whose story threads its way through evermore much like her predecessor Rebekah Harkness. The two albums are clearly sisters but are by no means identical. Her latest release has rain clouds, yet a ray of light peeks through and signals the end of the storm. But above all, evermore is a message of hope.
Songs about “unhappily ever after” marriages ending in divorce, find their footing in wishing the other person well and claiming that “there’ll be happiness after you/but there was happiness because of you/both of these things can be true.” Two cowboys focused only on money find something much richer and deeper in their connection (and give off major “Getaway Car” vibes). “no body, no crime” begins with infidelity and ends in a vigilante story resulting in justice being served. And even the tear-jerking “marjorie” proves that even though people die, they still live on in memories and stories that get passed down. Lighter production with the most country influences Swift has released since Red, adds to the warm feeling that evermore provides.
Collaborations with HAIM, The National, and Bon Iver add to the overall dreaminess of the album but don’t pack as strong of a punch as folklore’s single duet, “exile” (although who doesn’t love a call-and-response between Swift and Bon Iver). In what should come as no surprise, Swift’s lyricism and songwriting expertise make the album what it is. Penning tracks that make listeners’ hearts flutter and then reducing them to a sobbing mess on the next song is a power that not many artists have. This ability shines brighter on the duology of folklore/evermore than ever before and mesmerizes listeners with her extensive vocabulary.
While the subjects of the song go through heavier moments in their lives compared to the 17-year-old love triangle, the one thing Swift has shown us is that we will all survive our roughest moments and that there will be happiness at the end of it. “I had a feeling so peculiar/This pain wouldn’t be forevermore.”
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DISCLAIMER: I am one of the biggest Taylor Swift fans you will ever meet and that does put rose-colored glasses over my eyes when writing reviews of her work. I’ve performed her songs at talent shows, tried to recreate the iconic “Should’ve Said No” performance with a garden hose, and more or less danced around like a maniac with my best friends when “Shake It Off” was first released. As much as I try to remain objective, it’s definitely hard when Miss Swift is involved.