Just like the fact that us being in December doesn’t feel real, it has been five months since Taylor Swift‘s last album ‘folklore’. What feels especially surreal is the fact that we are here talking about Swift’s second surprise album ‘evermore‘. I could have sworn that five seconds ago it was still August and now we’re putting up holiday decorations and hand-stitching “’tis the damn season! on our sweaters because we simply can’t afford actual merch.
It’s no secret that this year had a huge impact on our mental health. When I sat down to listen to ‘folklore’ last July, I was in a pretty bad place and it definitely impacted my initial listen. I am very glad to say that although it’s been a bumpy ride with no destination in sight, I am in a much better place now than I was back then. Sitting down to listen to ‘evermore’ felt unbelievably surreal. When you listen to a Taylor Swift album you just know for a fact that it’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster. Being at the place that I am now this album felt much more digestable than ‘folklore’. While ‘folklore’ was an album I gradually started to love, ‘evermore’ had an instant connection. With this album being the sister record to ‘folkore’, we had a fair assumption of what the sound of the album was gonna be so there wasn’t that initial shock. ‘Evermore’ however felt like reconnecting with an old friend.
Taylor Swift has the type of career where with each record you would say she’s established herself as one of the best artists of our time. That statement has yet to be proven wrong as ‘evermore’ is another stellar addition to an incredible discography. With its predecessor revolving around memories and reflection, ‘evermore’ focuses on endings and the future that follows. It’s brilliant how she set ‘folklore’ in Spring and Summer and ‘evermore’ in Autumn and Winter. This year has undoubtedly put us in a nostalgic state which was reflected in ‘folklore’. We have been through so much this year that us being in December gives a much-needed sense of closure to this year and hope for the next. With the title track which is also a fitting closing to the album, Swift taps into the darkness everyone has faced this year. It’s a track which reflects the album on a thematic level because whether you’ve lost someone, you’re going through a breakup or you’re living with someone who only tolerates you, she is telling us that this pain won’t last forevermore. Such a beautiful and necessary message to leave us with.
Melodically, ‘evermore’ is a much more exciting album than ‘folklore’ whereas that album carried a monotone quality on it’s initial listen. ‘Evermore’ on the other hand features some attention-grabbing tracks like ‘gold rush’, ‘no body, no crime’ and the less successful attempt, ‘closure’. The constant change in melody in ‘gold rush’ was refreshing and unpredictable, it’s easily one of Swift’s most captivating tracks in that regard. Standout track ‘no body, no crime’ is a true delight not only from a musical perspective but also the deliciously dark story Swift weaves is bound to get strong reactions making it one of the most entertaining tracks of the year. There is rarely a dull moment throughout this album, there is always a note or an instrumental detail which grabs my attention. Placement on an album matters immensely, there needs to be a steady pace which keeps the listener intrigued and ‘evermore’ does that far more successfully than ‘folklore’ in my opinion. Both albums have their strong suits and standout tracks but the last third of that album still drags for me. ‘Evermore’ is a significant improvement despite having it’s last third be the weakest section of the album. Tracks like ‘cowboy like me’, ‘long story short’ and ‘closure’ didn’t necessarily stand out on my initial listen and they aren’t tracks I will necessarily seek out. That being said it does have one of Swift’s best closing tracks which really does close out this wonderful era in a gorgeous way.
Swift’s songwriting continues to be an impressive constant throughout her career and ‘evermore’ is no exception. Her ability to detail and describe emotion and human interaction astounds me every single time. The level of complexity she brings to her tracks is one of the many reasons that make her such an exciting artist to follow. The heart-shattering tracks ‘tolerate it’ and ‘happiness’ evoke such specific emotions because the lyrics will either have the listener relate to it or attach those lyrics to a relationship outside of their own. The lyric “No one teaches you what to do when a good man hurts and you know you hurt him too” alone can sum up the emotional complexity her songs carry. There is a mutual accountability to be taken and you just don’t hear that in a lot of songs anymore. Her storytelling skills have only gotten better as proven by ‘no body, no crime’, ‘champagne problems’ and ‘ivy’. Each lyric she sang was a new picture painted in my head. She makes you imagine up entire situations with a phrase. I could see an old ballroom and a dramatic escape when I listen to ‘champagne problems’. I imagine a maiden and a prince having an affair in the woods when I listen to ‘ivy’. It truly is insane, her songwriting skills are unmatched.
Overall, Taylor Swift has crafted yet another jewel to her crowning discography with ‘evermore’. Her ability to tap into such unique moments in our lives and evoke such specific emotions with a single lyric makes her one of my favourite artists of all time. Nobody can write or imitate Swift’s genius in that regard. This year she has delivered not one but two gorgeous albums which are guaranteed to become timeless classics. As a long-time fan, this makes me immensely happy seeing as how she thought that ‘Lover’ was the last time society would tolerate her and here we are, two record-breaking number one albums later showcasing Swift at the top of her game.
Ranking of Songs:
1. gold rush
2. tolerate it
3. no body, no crime (feat. HAIM)
7. champagne problems
8. ’tis the damn season
9. evermore (feat. Bon Iver)
12. long story short
13. cowboy like me
14. coney island (feat. The National)
‘evermore’ is now available to stream everywhere.