Review: Taylor Swift – evermore

Displaying exactly why her name is Taylor Swift and not Taylor ‘Slow’ the queen of the pop world returns, just four months after her last album release, with her ninth studio album, evermore.

Since July, folklore, Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album has acted as a lockdown remedy and demonstrated the artists ability to progress from country to pop to a mellow alt-rock sound all in the space of her decade long career. So, it was a surprise when she announced just hours before its release her quick return to the ‘folklore era’ as she calls it with the self-described ‘sister record’ evermore.

“To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music.”

Clearly her team; consisting of her long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff, The National’s, Aaron Dessner and boyfriend Joe Alywn, (working under the name William Bowery) all decided to grab their hiking boots and travel back into the musical forest. And I can’t see the fans complaining.

Just like in folklore, Swift embarks on a lyrical journey to develop fascinating characters in her songs and create alluring stories. The artists characterisation in the tracks Dorothea and Marjorie is truly commendable, along with her talent to write about countless affairs and marriages with songs like, ivy, tolerate it and unsuitably named, happiness (it’s a tearjerker). Her storytelling is deeply developed in this album when speaking in the third person, no more are there games of guess who – or guess which ex when listening to each song.

Instead, when describing her current beau Alywn in track three, gold rush she gives a classic Swiftie my-lover-is-very-attractive boast with the line, “What must it be like to grow up that beautiful?”

The entire album contains calming acoustics, with fingerpicked strums of guitars, the mellow sound of piano keys, sonorous beat of the drums and the signature mandolin which is particularly featured in country like me as can be expected from a title like that.

The lead single willow begins with guitar sounds mirroring The Civil Wars, a previous collaborator of Swift. A music video has been released alongside the single, which begins with Taylor in her cardigan from the previous music video in folklore following a piece of gold, magical string and being taken to a forest that might be seen in a fairy tale. A very elven looking Swift seeks out her lover, breaking the fourth wall to say the line, “But I come back stronger than a ‘90s trend”.

Another come back would be the amusing pop sounds in gold rush and long story short which deliver a 1989 vibe like no other. Cleverly, long story short has a line that alludes to a song from her 2014 album. The line “fell from the pedestal, right down the rabbit hole” references the song Wonderland which portrayed the story of Alice in Wonderland. It is easy to picture these songs in stadiums around the world, packed with adoring fans.

A fan favourite appears to be track six, no body, no crime featuring the vocals of Haim. In this track, Swift really explores her aptitude to get in the mind of a character (in this song a murderous woman) and tell an anecdote in the space of a four-minute song. The classic country tones of a harmonica add a familiar sound and the beat of the drum adds an enticing edge.

The tracks, champagne problems and “’tis the damn season” create a rather gloomy yet festive feel to the record. The first being about a failed engagement that echoes her previous song New Year’s Day from her album reputation. The latter being a cynical approach to going home for the holidays and remembering the love you left behind. This adds such a weirdly cordial and friendly slant to what are in actual fact dejected songs.

Certain tunes may have missed the mark such as coney island which only stands out due to its feature from American rock band, The National. Another being closure where the intro sounds as if someone has handed a toddler two metal pans and hit record. The lyrics felt clumsy and predictable for an artist that has such a vast vocabulary.

The album finished with the album titled track, evermore featuring the raspy tones of Bon Iver’s, Justin Vernon. Their previous collaboration on folklore simply wasn’t enough and we can only be thankful for their choice to work together again. The song is lyrically beautiful and feels like a comfortable end to the fifteen-song album.

It’s unclear to both Taylor Swift and her fans where she is headed. Her current plans of re-recording all her old albums will presumably keep her busy. But as she has shown by releasing three albums in the space of 15 months, her creativity and motivation is not in short supply. The devil works hard, but Miss Swift works harder.

By Jessica Matthewson

Listen to evermore now!

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