During the first few months of the pandemic, many of us made banana bread and sourdough starters, and probably achieved little more creative output than choosing which pyjamas we could seamlessly transition into being daytime wear. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift wrote, produced and recorded not only one, but two albums, the second of which was released last week.
evermore, Swift’s 9th studio album, is in a similar vein to July’s sister-album folklore. Indie, pop, and folk songs populate its track list, with a couple of songs harking back to her country roots.
To be completely honest, I was not bowled over on my first listen. To me, it felt like all the best songs had been used for folklore, with evermore being a collection of the other tracks. Still good, but not breath-taking. Since my first listen, I must have heard each song a dozen times on repeat, and the album is definitely a grower. New lyrics pop out, melodies become familiar, and I have come to really appreciate the album for all its intricacies and the blending of genres Swift achieves in a relatively short runtime.
Here’s a breakdown of the album’s top tracks:
‘willow’ is a simple, breathy, indie-folk earworm with a clear message: Taylor has a man and he’s hers. The lyric “that’s my man” is repeated 13 times in the track (fans will know the significance of that number). Still, the track’s repetition works in its favour, as it feels like something of a lullaby, within Swift’s soft voice captivating the listener.
Best line: “I come back stronger than a 90s trend”
‘champagne problems’ feels like 2012 Red-era Swift, with yearning-infused lyrics and a classic story of heartbreak and tears. A repeating piano melody and bass combine for a beautiful, tender accompaniment to Swift’s subtly bitter words.
Best line: “She would’ve made such a lovely bride / What a shame she’s fucked in the head”
‘tis the damn season
A festive tale of hooking up with a hometown hottie, ‘‘tis the damn season’s’ release two weeks before Christmas no doubt left many yearning for a “babe for the weekend”. Electric guitar punctuates a track imbued with temporary intimacy.
Best line: “There’s an ache in you, put there by the ache in me”
no body no crime (feat. HAIM)
Just when we’d been lulled into a false sense of security with vulnerable folk songs, ‘no body no crime’ bursts onto the album with a gritty, country tale of infidelity and revenge. Two murders occur in this song, giving evermore the highest body count of any Swift album, I’m pretty sure. I’m personally very much here for Taylor Swift bringing cheating husbands to justice, especially if it inspires her to make more country songs. The Haim sisters’ backing vocals and input really elevate the song.
Best line: ‘Good thing my daddy made me get a boating license when I was fifteen / And I’ve cleaned enough houses to know how to cover up a scene’
‘happiness’, a reflective post-break-up tear-jerker, is full of long-awaited hope as well as grief. It stuck out to me because of its melodic simplicity, juxtaposed with lyrics which highlight the emotional complexities of heartbreak.
Best line: ‘All you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness / You haven’t met the new me yet/And I think she’ll give you that’
evermore (feat. Bon Iver)
Swift’s second collaboration with Bon Iver’s frontman Justin Vernon is a haunting piano ballad, rising to a crescendo when the pair’s voices collide. With multiple references to ‘exile’ (the song they co-wrote and sang on folklore) Swift and Vernon round the album off on a somewhat sober, but hopeful note.
Best line: ‘Writing letters/Addressed to the fire’
With two albums out this year, and the re-recording of all of her previous studio albums after a dispute with her ex-label, Taylor Swift has certainly been hard at work. evermore, while in my opinion, not her magnum opus, is a beautiful, vulnerable album full of her trademark lyrical talent, and I cannot wait to see what the next few years will bring.
– Caitlin Barr
Featured Image Source: Still via Taylor Swift // YouTube. Director of Photography: Rodrigo Prieto