Album Review: Taylor Swift – ‘Evermore’

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In a year where all of us seem to have been doing nothing, and just getting by, Taylor Swift has been busy. On 11th December she released Evermore; marking her second foray into folk and indie music, after her first surprise album of the year Folklore. An album that has been mainly co-produced by The National’s Aaron Dessener and Jack Antonoff, it feels like Swift has come full circle in her music. Starting out as a country singer writing narratives about characters that existed solely in her head, to now finally getting her guitar back out to invent fictional characters with interconnected storylines. Considering her seemingly stable private life, and for a star who is now 14 years into her career whilst simultaneously trying to avoid the limelight, this seems like the perfect fit.

“Swift reaches new dimensions of artistry in her evolutionary career and it’s the perfect album for a year like 2020.”

In fact, her narrative story-telling is where she shines best. The collaboration with Haim on ‘No Body, No Crime’ feels folklore at best – the harmonies from the sisters with the repeated refrain of ‘I think he did it, but I just can’t prove it’, and her track ‘Ivy’- supposedly about two women participating in an adulterous affair against their husbands- evidencing her cool and slick song writing. This is why folk seems to suit her best; whilst her older pop albums of Lover and Reputation do not miss out on clever rhymes and beautiful metaphors, the composition of instruments fit perfectly with her writing – she seems to no longer be cutting out words, shortening her sentences to fit in a pop beat. Instead, she’s letting everything be said.

But, Swift still keeps some things personal. Despite her years of being berated for her confessional song-writing, this hasn’t left Swift with a bad taste in her mouth. Songs like ‘Coney Island’ and ‘Long Story Short’ evidence how Swift is still willing to say her piece, detailing her perspective of her long-standing feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, plus her long-term, and very private, relationship with Joe Alwyn. She hasn’t left herself to feel anonymous – although she is writing about other people, there’s always room for her own life to be memorialised in song. It’s a comfort for fans of her music, who have seen her life detailed in lyrics.

“It feels like Swift has come full circle in her music…She’s now finally getting her guitar back out to invent fictional characters with interconnected storylines.”

Her most private song, and arguably the stand-out track of the record, is track 13, ‘Marjorie.’ Track 13 being, along with Track 5, often designated as the most meaningful songs of Swift’s – she certainly doesn’t miss with this track. A tribute to her late grandmother – who died when she was 13 – the song and its place on the album mirrors that of its sister-album Folklore, of which track 13 was a tribute to her late grandfather. A heartbreaking piece that details grief in such a mundane way as Swift laments missed opportunities ‘I should have asked you questions / I should have asked you how to be’, as Marjorie’s soprano singing pierces the song’s background. A ghostly song, with an ethereal presence, it embodies the album’s overall themes of reflection – on love, happiness, heartbreak, and grief. It’s Swift at her best, and most powerful.

The collaborations with The National and are remarkably different to her previous pop-star features of Zayn Malik and Ed Sheeran. The melodic tunes in tracks such as ‘Evermore’ and ‘Coney Island’, similar to that of ‘Exile’ on the album Folklore, with Swift’s mellow voice along with the woodsy, ghostly and spiralling, rambling lyrics – the collaboration feels to be at home with Swift’s vibe more than any other. A colossal album released without a huge press-cycle and millions of Easter-eggs, this laxed approach to releasing music seems to have caused Swift to be more creative than ever, whilst working with artists that encourage her to leave her writing uncluttered. The album ends with a reflection on peace and emotional clarity, as she declares that her pain ‘wouldn’t be evermore’ – Swift reaches new dimensions of artistry in her evolutionary career. It’s the perfect album for a year like 2020.

You can listen to Taylor Swift’s album here.

Image: Taylor Swift via WikiMedia Commons

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