Miss Taylor Swift has done it yet again. We should be nine albums the wiser but yet, here she goes putting us an inch away from texting our exes again. But with the double-edged sword which Taylor’s masterful lyrics dig into our hearts, there then comes the realization that your ex actually has your number blocked… If folklore is attending the same party as your ex, its sister, evermore is then the Uber ride home alone.
With 15 new songs, it is a 5-star-rated Uber ride. And perhaps, we might even add another star for the fact that evermore arrived a mere 5 months after its older sister, folklore.
Swift’s songwriting is typically applauded for the vulnerabilities which they reveal about her personal life. What’s unique about folklore and evermore are the adopted narratives Taylor has taken on, of which create such intensely beautiful and vision-rich songs. We’ve all familiarized ourselves with the autobiographical nature of Swift’s lyrics. For one, who can forget the directness of tracks like ‘The Moment I Knew’? Lyrics of which took us all into the toilet crying with Taylor at her 21st birthday. We will never forget that Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t show up (still mad at him for that tbh). But anyways… A decade later and on the cusp of her 31st birthday, there is a new reckoning with love at play.
Despite the fairytale-esque lyrics and sound of evermore, its greatest strength comes from Taylor’s exploration of toxic relationships. In particular, the kind of love which needs to be lost. ‘gold rush’, the second track on the album gives a strong case for this. There is a clear influence from the 1989’s synth pop as Taylor sings, “I don’t like that anyone would die to feel your touch.” God, but if this album is proof of anything, that kind of love is also unforgettable which is what makes letting go difficult. This theme of lost love and its aftermath is particularly strong in tracks such as ‘tolerate it’, ‘happiness’ and ‘closure’. “I can’t make it go away by making you a villain”, she sings on ‘happiness’ about the end of a seven-year relationship. The track is a clear album highlight, with Swift’s voice at its most heavenly. It however leaves you haunted by the equal weight of guilt felt by both people after a failed relationship. The chorus of, “There’ll be happiness after you/ But there was happiness because of you too” feels like the soft flame of a candle about to blow out. And if there’s anything to learn, toxic relationships should always be blown out before the house burns down. Someone call 111 because there is a masterful songwriter in the house!
We first meet Betty and James in folklore, but it’s time to turn the page and welcome some new characters. On ‘tis the damn season’, two lovers reconnect in their hometown, sung from the perspective of one who clearly finds the situation temporary. Because well, it’s a holiday hook-up, right? The opening line, “If I wanted to know who you were hanging out with/While I was gone, I would have asked you” will answer that for you. BUT WAIT. The plot thickens… This mystery heartbreaker from ‘tis the damn season’ is revealed on Track 8 to be ‘Dorothea’ – a character of whom became famous after leaving her hometown and also left her Track 8 lover yearning for her. Sigh, Taylor why did you have to do to us. There are clearly going to be bad hook-ups this holiday season, just because of Miss Swift.
Bad holiday decisions aside, let’s get onto the completely unforgettable country ballad of ‘no body, no crime’, featuring two-thirds of the Haim sisters. One might be disillusioned by the Track 11 titled ‘cowboy like me’ (also incredible in its own right), but this is where Taylor’s true country twang reemerges from the dead on the album. A tale of a wife confronting her cheating husband, of which leads to a cold-blooded murder… What more could you want? Taking on the classic country trope of a vengeful breakup, this song is honestly just so bloody fun. Replace the banjo-wielding sass of ‘Mean’ from Speak Now with a harmonica and boom, you will understand the magic of ‘no body, no crime’.
We are certainly harmonica hypnotized by the Haim and Taylor collaboration (which we were gathering dust waiting for), but there’s no way we can forget about the other incredible evermore collaborators. William Bowery for one gets a special mention, a mysterious name which first appeared on folklore track credits. In her Disney+ film, Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Taylor reveals that Mr. Bowery is actually her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. AHH. What a match in story-telling heaven. We are living for it. Thank you William Bowery for helping with the dreamy ‘champagne problems’, ‘coney island’ ft. The National and the closing track, and the shockingly titled curtain-closing track, ‘evermore’ ft. another appearance from (baritone-beauty) Bon Iver. The only song off the album which appears to be directly inspired by Joe and Taylor’s super private relationship however is ‘long story short’. The song takes place between Reputation and Lover, a continuation of the Swift mythology of which we all know and love.
evermore is a clear outlier in Taylor’s mythology, it has broken the album-era organised chapters of her artistic journey. This makes it even more special as an album. Because rather than just getting another chapter, we’ve received a completely new novel. As a completed puzzle, evermore is the finest of Taylor’s craft. It showcases her maturity as an artist to the absolute maximum, it takes witchery to be able to make the masses feel a universal relatability to your fictional stories. And to be able to do it with two sisterly albums, we will happily remain in the folklorian woods forever. Oh and that ex who has your number blocked? Well, let evermore tell you now, your Instagram feed looks much better with your posts of him archived.
If you’re not feeling convinced, evermore is out now and awaiting you.