To have Taylor Swift, an artist known for Easter eggs and intense build-up to releases, put out a surprise album in 2020 was a shock to even her more dedicated fans. For her to put out a second? Unbelievable.
And yet here it is; the follow up to summer’s folklore, evermore is the sister album birthed from Swift’s unending passion for song-writing, a talent she honed this year. In the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon for artists to put out music: Charli-XCX, Evanescence, and Megan Thee Stallion among others wrote and released what critics have argued is some of their best work. Had you asked Swifties if they thought Taylor Swift would be included in that crowd, it would have likely been a resounding no: Swift has always been known for her meticulous planning of album cycles. folklore proved she could diverge from her usual path and still succeed, with the album staying at #1 on the Billboard Top 100 for a record 8 weeks. With evermore, she proves that it wasn’t just the surprise drop that helped her top the charts.
We’ve heard time and time again about how Taylor Swift only writes about herself – her exes, her loves, and her heartbreaks, but evermore continues what she tried and proved as a trusted method on folklore: writing about other people. A standout from the album is HAIM-collaboration ‘no body no crime’, a country ballad about murdering a friend’s cheating husband and getting away with it (which, despite constant rumours surrounding Harry Styles and vehicular manslaughter, I’m fairly certain Swift hasn’t done). Returning to her roots after 1989 set the blueprint for 2010s pop was a bold move, but one that paid off immensely. Long-time producer Jack Antonoff works his magic across genres and returning to work with folklore collaborators Bon Iver and The National could only have been a recipe for success.
Writer William Bowery (who was confirmed recently to be Swift’s partner, actor Joe Alwyn) returns to help pen one of the most emotional songs on the record. ‘champagne problems’ navigates a breakup that came as the narrator’s partner was preparing to propose. Pulling on heartstrings is a frequent theme on evermore; despite the album’s title, breakups come frequently and do so even more heart-wrenchingly than when Swift wrote about her own. ‘tolerate it’ fits with her track 5 tradition of tragedies, from the infamous ‘All Too Well’ to anxious track ‘The Archer’, the latest addition to the lineup only serves to strengthen the track 5 theme.
Lead single ‘willow’ can only be described as a witchy, sensually-constructed dedication, something that fits the slightly darker vibes of evermore compared to folklore’s firm cottagecore roots. The first album was autumn days to evermore’s winter nights, and the two pair perfectly, extensions of each other. With rumours swirling of even a possible third album, its safe to say that Taylor Swift has found firm-footing in indie-folk base. More? Well, in 2019, I would have thought you mad, but in 2020? With Taylor Swift, anything goes.
Header image: Taylor Swift. Credit: The New York Times.