Meet “folklore’s” sister, Taylor Swift’s “evermore”

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Image courtesy of

Audrey Lai, Editor in Chief

Less than five months after Taylor Swift’s surprise eighth studio album, “folklore,” the singer-songwriter released its sister album, “evermore,” on December 11, 2020. Deriving from the same vein of fictional storytelling and folk pop, a genre Swift has so effortlessly stepped into and perfected, “evermore” serves as the yin to “folklore”’s yang – a study of learning to heal after pain instead of pure sadness, and an expression of autumn and winter after spring and summer. As Swift’s second album written and produced during quarantine, it’s fitting how her musical style has shifted from pure pop well suited to fill stadiums to folk which allows her to be more experimental and personal.

The album opens with a soft cascade of plucked strings, muted piano, and orchestral backing. Much like her previous albums, the lead single, “willow,” serves as a lighthearted first chapter, setting the tone for the story while preparing the reader for darker themes which later follow. Swift alludes to the hardships she faced in the past with the lyric “They count me out time and time again” which she deals with in succeeding songs. The music video for “willow” follows directly after “cardigan” from “folklore,” demonstrating the interwoven nature of the two albums.

Although similar in sound, Swift utilizes more electronic elements which surprisingly combine beautifully with folk. Electronic beats melding with acoustics, “gold rush” envelops the listener in warmth, reflecting the feeling of falling in love and the jealousy and confusing feelings which follow, and “happiness” deals with moving on and healing, with beats serving as echoes from Swift’s past which soon become taken over by a rush of piano and acoustics.

Swift’s lyricism has been a focal point of her music from the very beginning, and “evermore” is no exception. Since the stripped-down nature of her new sound is comparable to her older, country roots, Swift demonstrates her incredible growth in writing on the album, expressing first her pain as an open wound and then her relief when she’s moved on. Swift shouts scathing questions on the bridge of “tolerate it,” asking, “While you were out building other worlds, where was I? Where’s that man who’d throw blankets over my barbed wire? I made you my temple, my mural, my sky/Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life” and drowns in sorrow in “marjorie,” a message to her late grandmother, singing, “Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt/’Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me/Watched as you signed your name Marjorie/All your closets of backlogged dreams/And how you left them all to me.” 

Near the end of her album, her wounds begin to heal. In “long story short,” Swift recalls her past battles, singing “Pushed from the precipice/Climbed right back up the cliff/Long story short, I survived” and in “it’s time to go,” she describes leaving her past behind, singing “That old familiar body ache/The snaps from the same little breaks in my soul/I know when it’s time to go.” Her lyrics are incredibly touching, poetic, and easily relatable for every listener.

Similar to “folklore,” the lyrics of some songs are intertwined with others to construct an elaborate story. A letter to a fictional past lover named Dorothea who has moved away from her hometown, “dorothea” serves as a companion to “‘tis the damn season,” in which Dorothea returns home for the holidays and wonders what her life would be if she had stayed in her hometown.

My personal favorite track, “cowboy like me,” tells the story of the love story between two criminals. Soft and slow, the song incorporates the harmonica, piano, and guitar, reminding me of her country past but with a more mature perspective.

Multiple collaborations are featured in “evermore” – Swift teams with HAIM for “no body, no crime,” an aggressively catchy acoustic track detailing the story of the murder of the narrator’s friend by her cheating husband and her revenge. Partnering up with The National, “coney island” shines a contrasting light on a couple’s memories – one that is melodramatic and cold. Swift’s smooth, dreamlike voice collides with Matt Berninger’s rough one, creating a haunting melody that climaxes as the backing tracks intensify until they suddenly die down.

The story of “evermore” goes through mourning, a myriad of failed relationships, and processing grief. But on the last track, Swift has healed. In the last few seconds of the album, she softly sings, “I had a feeling so peculiar/This pain wouldn’t be for/Evermore.”