In a year that has caused such turmoil and heartache across the world, Taylor Swift has put all her efforts toward creativity and graced listeners with not one but two surprise albums. Following July’s release of Folklore, Swift has released its sister album, Evermore. Riddled with the same raw lyricism and folk sound as Folklore, Evermore further shows listeners that Swift is a domineering songwriter in today’s industry.
Returning with The National’s Aaron Dessner and longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff as well as Bryce Dessner, BJ Burton and James McAlister, as producers, it’s sonically clear how tied Folklore and Evermore are to each other. If Swift is enticing listeners with the melancholic atmosphere and gloomy stories of Folklore, she’s inviting them to venture further into the woods with Evermore. The album capitalizes on the mood of Folklore and then takes listeners into some of Swift’s most imaginative and poetic lyrics that individually detail stories, happenings and themes with each track.
On “no body, no crime,” Swift teams up with the sisters of HAIM to produce a story of a cheating husband, murder and revenge all bundled into one. With a subdued harmonica, the plucking of a guitar and HAIM’s harmonies, “no body, no crime” sees Swift venture into the country genre for the first time in years. Swift continues the country subtleties with “cowboy like me.”
Mirroring the piano-led instrumentation that fueled Folklore, “champagne problems” sees Swift at her best on Evermore. The airy ballad sees the songstress illustrate a rejected proposal all while detailing mental illness and its stigmatization. Fitted with one of Swift’s best bridges since Red’s “All Too Well” in 2012, the song is eloquent, raw and exudes Swift’s poetic lyricism.
Where Evermore slightly differs from Folklore is that it does include tastes of Swift’s usual pop nuances. Tracks like “long story short” and “gold rush” include electronic beats and soaring choruses that pay homage to Swift’s pop ventures but also very much fit into the subdued, fantastical world that is Evermore.
Closing the album, Swift once again teams up with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon for the ballad “evermore.” The song, which builds to a climactic bridge accompanied with Vernon’s higher range instead of his lower register, complements Folklore’s “exile” but is also a vastly different story. The Evermore title track sees Swift explore the feelings of loneliness, heartbreak and pain, and then her finding a glimmer of hope within it all. Despite the piano ballad’s dismal instrumentation, the song acts as a ray of light within the darkness that runs throughout Folklore and Evermore.
While there’s no doubt more full-blown pop music is in her future, it’s also apparent that Swift has an innate ability to perfect whatever genre, sound or mood she pleases. Nevertheless, Swift’s continuation into the world of folk, poetic lyricism and storytelling excels with Evermore. Whereas Folklore seems like an exploration into experimentation, Evermore feels more sophisticated, curated and rounded as an album. With Evermore, Swift is continually growing and learning more about herself as a songwriter, and listeners are lucky enough to ride along on that adventure.