On Friday, December 11, 2020, Taylor Swift released her ninth studio album titled evermore, sister album to its predecessor folklore. The announcement came less than a day earlier and was completely unexpected, catching even the most committed fans by surprise. Composed of fifteen songs, evermore falls into the same alternative-indie-pop of folklore, and features two bonus tracks, originally exclusive to the deluxe edition, but now available for streaming. Like folklore, evermore tells stories, both imaginary and of reality through song.
The morning of Thursday, December 10th, sitting in my computer class, one thing I was not expecting was an all caps text from my friend about a new Taylor Swift album. I was convinced folklore would be my senior year Swift album, but with the introduction of evermore I was beyond excited. Despite having biology class to attend at seven thirty Friday morning, I stayed up until midnight to play through each of the songs on evermore. The warm promotional photos and cover art of evermore offered a contrast from folklore's black and white visuals giving me the impression that it might be more lighthearted than folklore.
"willow" In All Its Forms
The first song on evermore is the mythical song "willow", featuring a music video that picks up exactly where folklore’s single “cardigan” left off. Just as magical and whimsical as "cardigan”, “willow” is a song about ,“intrigue, desire, and the complexity that goes into wanting someone,” to quote Swift herself. Personally, I loved “willow” from the first listen. It sets an ethereal and romantic tone for the remainder of the album. “willow” is sweet and it made me want to go dancing in a forest, despite it being past midnight when I first heard it.
Following the release of evermore, three more versions of “willow” were released, all themed to witches, including dancing, moonlit and lonely witch versions. At this point I have not listened to them all, considering that they are the same song but overall, “willow” is an uplifting start to evermore.
We Have To Talk About “tolerate it”, “happiness” And “closure”
While these three songs all detail very specific and distinct situations, personally, I view them as the hard hits. Although “marjorie” was the only song to make me cry (yes it's a little embarrassing, but I'll admit it), “tolerate it”, “happiness”, and “closure” all have the potential to wreck me the same way. These three songs portray Swift's true prowess as a lyricist and emotional storytelling ability. “tolerate it” lives up to its iconic track five title, being a vulnerable song about a one-sided relationship where love is tolerated rather than celebrated. While some listeners may have never experienced such a relationship, Swift's lyrical mastery paints a vivid picture accessible by all.
“happiness” brought me pretty close to tears on my first listen. Telling of moving on from a failed relationship, “happiness” recognizes the joys in past relationships while still looking towards the happiness that are still to come. The line “I can't make it go away by making you a villain” reminded me of old Taylor Swift songs, villainizing exes (still all admittedly catchy songs). With time, we grow to recognize both the good and bad in relationships, and learn to better understand partners. The lyric “no one teaches you what to do/ when a good man hurts you/ and you know you hurt him too” points to taking a mature approach while still understanding our emotions.
Oh, “closure”, the not-so-moving-on-song. Theorized to be about Swift's drama with Big Machine Records and the ownership of her masters, “closure” can also be read as a classic Swift breakup song. The song is catchy but also cuts deep about how things come to an end.
There are two songs on evermore that I was quickly able to identify as personal favorites. From the first listen I knew “gold rush” and “long story short” were top picks. The two songs have much more of a pop feel than the rest of the album and resemble the musical styling of my favorite Taylor Swift album, 1989.
“gold rush”, the third song on the album, tells the story of falling in love with someone who is also desired by others. A romanticized daydream of something will never be sung in an upbeat and positive tone leaves listeners with a bittersweet rush. “gold rush” serves similar energy to “august” off of folklore in imagining a love that slips away. Additionally, “gold rush” holds the only outright mention of folklore in the line "my mind turned your life into folklore", commenting on the idolization of a personal lover.
“long story short” brings high energy to the more mellow end of the album, sandwiched between “cowboy like me” and “marjorie”. What I can confidently say is my favorite song off evermore, is a story of survival and persistence and the love found through it. An incredible song to blast at full volume, “long story short”, is also the only song on evermore (besides the titular song “evermore”) to mention the title of the album with the lyric “my waves meet your shore/ ever and evermore”. A favorite lyric of mine, “long story short it was a bad time/ long story short I survived”, is representative of 2020, and now my potential senior quote.
Amidst last Wednesday's chaotic news scene, Swift silently released the two bonus tracks off of evermore. "right where you left me" and "it's time to go" are two lyrical stories that match the energy of the rest of evermore. Since I bought the deluxe edition CD once it was available at Target, I was able to listen to the two bonus tracks in my car before they were publicly released. "right where you left me" was instantly stuck in my head and followed me all the way home as I bothered my family with my horrible rendition— "help I'm still at the restaurant". Quickly it shot to the top of my evermore rankings.
I love evermore. I know it caught us all by surprise and I can't say it's my favorite album, but I really did enjoy it. I believe songs like "gold rush", "long story short", and "right where you left me" will over time grow to be some of my favorite songs. evermore and its much more upbeat tone in comparison to folklore allows for more longevity in my opinion. While certain songs like "coney island" and "cowboy like me" weren't my favorites, Swift's lyrical mastery and storytelling ability is still on full display and I can't wait to see where she goes next.