Taylor Swift immersed us in a fairytale that felt truly isolated from the reality of lockdown during the pandemic with the intricate and passionate tales of folklore. The love, defeat, and beauty she conveyed through the album’s forested trail settled a new front for Swift’s music: woodsy, poetic, and mournful. evermore, the sister album to folklore, came as a sigh of relief as it enveloped you in the sylvan picks of guitar strings and flute spells underlining Swift’s raw vocals in the album’s first track, "willow." She has created yet another masterpiece.
evermore walks us deeper into the poetic enigmas of Swift’s chambered mind. In her Apple Music "Songwriter of the Year" interview, Swift discusses the catharsis of releasing this album and its presence as folklore’s descendent. While folklore took a first–person perspective of fictitious protagonists, evermore has a more retrospective thesis. Each track feels like a fable that unloads a lifetime of love, heartbreak, and strength. Oh, and murder? Let's dive in.
A clear standout from the album, and perhaps a highlight from Swift's entire discography, is "champagne problems." This sentimental ballad is an overwhelming, emotional storm of nostalgia. With the same chords as "All Too Well," Swift spills a gut–wrenching tragedy of a broken engagement. The recurring themes of tragedy, love, escapism, and romanticization of reality bubble throughout this track as Swift once again employs her incredible ability to unfold an entire story in the bridge.
As Swift flutters across piano keys, the slow daydream of "gold rush" pours over the listener in a cascade of emotion. She perfectly encapsulates the “red–flush” and “slow–motion double vision in rose blush” feelings of envy through an inner fantasy about an unreachable crush. Bringing together the comprehensive meaning of both albums, Swift professes, “My mind turns your life into folklore.” The genius of it all is palpable through such lyrical prose, uniting reality with reverie. These golden undertones are shattered in meaningful spells throughout the predominantly somber album.
Each track embellishes the stories introduced to us in folklore. The torture of infidelity and its repercussions on all parties involved, which began in folklore’s "illicit affairs," is continued in "tolerate it." “tolerate it” is part of an "unhappily ever after" trilogy of seemingly interconnected songs, including "ivy" and "no body, no crime," all of which discuss the demise of a marriage. This consists of the mere toleration of a woman unloved by her husband, the complexity of infidelity, and, well, murder. In “ivy,” Swift captures the sentimental fragility of a woman having an affair: “my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand / taking mine but it’s been promised to another.” To conclude the “unhappily ever after” trilogy, Swift explodes in an intricate murder mystery.
The scope of emotion Swift intertwines throughout the rest of the album is simply fantastic. She commemorates her grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, in "marjorie," whose voice echoes like a beautiful ghost behind Swift’s elegant portrait of grief. Finlay’s feature is emblematic of “what died didn’t stay dead,” a line that continues to make me cry—over and over again. Swift also features Bon Iver, for a second time since folklore's "exile" on the titular track of the album, "evermore." Written in the same key, the two tracks are quite similar and are emblematic of heartache and grief. While “exile” ended brutally, “evermore” comes with a bit of solace as Swift reassures “this pain wouldn’t be forevermore.” On the same key of sadness, “happiness” is, well, heartbreaking. This song feels like a poetic reappraisal of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and a yearning for “the green light of forgiveness.” Swift yearns to mend the “great divide” between star–crossed lovers, as Gatsby does with Daisy. Ultimately, the fate of both relationships ends in both heartache and happiness, as Swift and Gatsby can look back on the beauty of their respective situations.
Swift has proven time and time again that she is a lyrical mastermind. Each song can be dissected in myriad ways. She drags us through both the despair of love and loss in “coney island" (feat. the National), with an incredibly powerful bridge that interconnects her past relationships. Then, in the blink of an eye, she enlivens us in the autobiographical track “long story short," relates to us with "'tis the damn season," tells us a story with "cowboy like me," and finally offers therapy with "closure." Some have interpreted "tis the damn season" and “dorothea” as one story about high school sweethearts.
In the recent release of the deluxe album, "it's time to go" and "right where you left me" drown the listener in raw emotion. After listening to “right where you left me” on repeat for days, I felt trapped in the same emotion I was drowned in in “All Too Well”: “time won’t fly / it's like I’m paralyzed by it." The country feel, the sensitivity, and the heartbreak all made this late release one of my favorite Swift songs of all time.
evermore is a poetic masterpiece. Despite my complete fulfillment with the surprise album, I have learned to never be settled as a Swiftie. The question that remains: What’s next? Swift, the master of ambiguity, has dropped Easter eggs regarding the potential for a third album, woodvale, as the conclusion to the folklore trilogy. While she has denied such rumors, I am hopeful that Swift will continue to shepherd us through the woodsy tales she fantasizes about in both folklore and evermore.