“evermore” reveals an ever-growing Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 24, 2019, in Los Angeles, Calif.

Bring your hands together for the woman who has single-handedly saved 2020. While most of us struggled to make our weekly Zoom meetings and get dressed every day, Taylor Swift was creating some of her best music, churning out two spell-binding albums. July gave us “folklore,” the perfect blend of fiction and reality, complete with compelling stories and passionate reconuts of life events. Last Friday, Swift posted on Instagram announcing the release of her ninth studio album, “evermore.” 

The sister album to “folklore,” evermore explores similar themes and takes on a similar style.  Both deal with themes of relationships. While “folklore” is more focused on the hurt that comes with any relationship ending, “evermore” focuses on healing and what comes next. Swift explained that she “just couldn’t stop writing songs” in her Instagram post announcing her latest album. Both albums are slower and less upbeat than her past work. There’s an apparent emphasis on lyrical meanings, as the instrumentals in both albums are more understated, allowing Swift’s vocals and lyrics to shine. The two albums diverge in their polish, as “evermore” has a rougher and more raw sound than “folklore.” 

The rustic element shined through in the music video for the first song on the album, “willow,” which dropped the same night as the album. “willow” depicts the journey from childhood friends to lovers. The “willow” music video begins where the “cardigan” video left off, demonstrating a thread of continuity between the two albums. Perhaps the best part of the video however, was the invisible string, the single thread of gold, that Swift carried through the video throughout the video, a nod to one of folklore’s best songs, “invisible string.”

After “willow” comes one of the top tracks of the album: “champagne problems.” Co-written with her boyfriend Joe Alwyn, “champagne problems” is about a woman who rejects her boyfriend’s proposal, shocking everyone, even herself. “I never was ready so I watch you go/Somtimes you just don’t know the answer/ ‘Til someone’s on their knees and asks you,” Swift sings with a rawness that demonstrates her vulnerability. The heartbreaking and brutal honesty Swift sings with pushes listeners to consider when someone truly is good enough. Many speculated that the rejected proposal she describes is about she and Alwyn, but Swift swiftly shut down those rumors. The delicate instrumentation of the song, allusions to a lost romance and general holiday theme reminds listeners of  “New Year’s Day,” a reputation-era track and fan favorite. 

Her folksy, romantic and slow tones continue until track six. “no body, no crime (feat. Haim)” is a return to her country roots. With a rebellious tone and “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood vibes, “no body, no crime” is the country return long time Swifties have been waiting for. She sings, “I think he did it, but I just can’t prove it/No, no body, no crime/But I ain’t lettin’ up until the day I die.” The harsher and more transparent meaning differs from her traditional clue-dropping, layer-heavy lyrics. The refreshing change is a subtle nod to her earlier albums.

She departs from her brusque song to perhaps the most gentle of all songs on the album. “marjorie,” a touching tribute to Swift’s deceased grandmother contains lyrics and emotions related to the loss of a loved one. Swift, with sadness, recalls how she “Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt/’Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me.” In a year filled with loss, it’s clear that the heartbreak in this song is one shared by millions. Sadness continues in her song “happiness.” With enough allusions to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” to make any English teacher happy, “happiness” seeks to acknowledge bits of joy from a past relationship that ended poorly. Swifts says, “I hope she’ll be your beautiful fool,” reminding listeners of Daisy, the beautiful fool of “The Great Gatsby” who Swift doesn’t want to be. A quietly sad track, her inclusion of the song, finished barely two weeks ago, cements her as the master of the breakup song. 

Perhaps—no, most definitely—the best song on the album is the 12th track, “long story short.” The opening is reminiscent of folklore’s third track, “the last great american dynasty,” and she keeps a uniform, bright and candid energy in the songs that makes these two the types of songs you want to belt out loud. “long story short” is a track about the public feuds and controversies Swift has been a part of. To make a “long story short,” Swift has put these conflicts with big names like Kanye West and Scooter Braun behind her, and is enjoying her life free from her past entanglements. Swift recalls how she “fell from the pedestal/Right down the rabbit hole/Long story short, it was a bad time” about her past and apparent fall from grace that led to her reputation era. Her growth from this time is clear both in the maturity of her sound and in her lyrical choices. She advises listeners that “not to get lost in these petty things/Your nemeses/Will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing.” 

These are merely the highlights, however. In a 15-track album, her standouts overshadow her lesser and melancholy songs, like “coney island (feat. The National)” and “cowboy like me.” But when it’s Taylor Swift, ‘lesser’ is still pretty dang good. The underwhelming lyrics and instrumental backgrounds makes these songs unremarkable, but still something you’d listen to as background noise. Nevertheless, “evermore” leaves us appreciating how Swift has truly come into her own these past few years. She explained that after releasing an album, she typically moves to her next era fairly quickly, but with “folklore,” it was different. Her growing maturity and sophistication shines in the quiet beauty of her songs. I truly didn’t think Swift could outdo herself, but by releasing a sister album, she has demonstrated an unmatched mastery of her sound and self and that’s what leaves fans wanting evermore. 

 

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “evermore” a 9.2/10 stars