Folklore/Evermore Review


Camryn Ward, Reporter

Taylor Swift has dominated the music industry for the majority of her career, and her surprise release of albums Folklore and Evermore definitely heightened her widespread popularity, as seen through the various records she has broken. During the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, on July 23rd of that year, she announced Folklore with a few hours notice; she stated, “Before this year I probably would have overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed.” Folklore consists of sixteen tracks, and seventeen if the bonus track ‘the lakes’ on its deluxe version is counted. This release surprised many fans, but the Taylor Swift fandom still took the internet by storm that day. She achieved the most day-one streams on Spotify, according to Guinness World Records, with 80.6 million streams. Folklore saw overwhelming support by both casual and die-hard fans, although not all of the response was positive. However, despite some of the negative opinions, a majority of critic’s reviews are praising the quarantine record for its “treasure trove of evocative metaphors and diary-like lyrics,” as written by USA Today’s Patrick Ryan. 

Folklore is, as teased by the name, an indie folk album with an alternative sound. It is a very mellow-sounding album, yet all of the songs have their own sound. Nothing is overused; every song brings something new to the table, whether it is story-wise or sound-wise. Swift is known for writing a majority of her songs about her own life, but Folklore is different. This album details a story that Swift came up with. She mentioned in the Folklore Long Pond Studio Sessions that writing a “stripped from the headlines account” of her life was “confining.” Folklore specifically highlights a fictional love triangle between characters James, Betty, and August. The lyrics of the title track ‘cardigan’ say, “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favorite.” This is supposed to signify James and Betty’s loving relationship. However, Swift stated in the Long Pond Studio Sessions that this love was not so sweet. She mentioned that ‘cardigan’ is “Betty’s perspective from…20 to 30 years later, looking back on this love that was this tumultuous thing…he really put her through it.” Another song on the album, ‘august’, highlights a summer romance between James and a girl named August. Lyrics from the song say, “So much for summer love and saying ‘us’, ‘cause you weren’t mine to lose.” All in all, Folklore is a dreamy album with a new sound and lyrics from Swift that can be elating and heartbreaking at the same time. “Folklore has so many good songs that tell the audience and listeners a different variety of stories,” Sophomore Tayleigh Austin expressed. “Taylor tells you so much through her music.”

Swift then announced Folklore’s sister album, Evermore, on December 10th, 2020 in a similar fashion as Folklore. In her Instagram post detailing the new record, she said, “To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs.” Evermore has fifteen tracks and two extra tracks for its bonus version. Evermore is the same genre of songs as Folklore, but it has a new sound to it. While both melancholy, Evermore seems more so, with an even more intricate storyline than its sister record. One song titled ‘champagne problems’ talks about a woman who rejected her partner’s proposal after wanting to break up with them. Another, titled ‘no body, no crime’, is a jarring twist in the story, which details a woman suspecting her husband of infidelity that ends in murder. The fictional detailings of Evermore have easter eggs of suspected ties to Folklore but presents new ideas and storylines. The title track ‘willow’ is described by Swift as being about “intrigue, desire, and the complexity that goes into wanting someone.” Some lyrics include, “The more that you say the less I know. Wherever you stray, I follow. I’m begging for you to take my hand, wreck my plans, that’s my man.” Both as lyrically clever and eloquent as many of Swift’s previous records, Folklore and Evermore have added to her potential in exploring genres and styles of writing. While many fans speculate that some of the Folklore and Evermore songs are written about Swift’s current boyfriend, British actor Joe Alwyn, others take the lyrics as corresponding to the characters she devised. One song, called ‘invisible string’, has lyrics such as, “and isn’t it just so pretty to think all along there was some invisible string tying you to me”, which many connect to her romance with the actor. To many fans’ surprise, though, Alwyn co-wrote some of the songs on each record; he is mentioned in the album credits under the pseudonym William Bowery. He helped write the songs ‘exile’ and ‘betty’ on Folklore and ‘champagne problems’, ‘coney island’, and ‘evermore’ on the Evermore album. With Taylor’s re-recorded album Fearless on the way, this continual release of albums differs from many of her previous eras that usually have years in between them. “A lot of people say that they miss the ‘old Taylor’’ and that she ‘has changed for the worse’ but…everyone grows and matures,” Austin voiced. “If you just ask yourself, ‘Do I miss who I used to be?’, most people don’t. People grow and learn.” A new era of Taylor Swift is dawning and she’s only getting started.