Many fans assumed that when Taylor Swift released “Folklore” as her quarantine album of 2020, that she was done. She surprised us all when she dropped its sequel album within the same year.
The album, produced by Swift and twin brothers and members of the band The National Aaron and Bryce Dessner and released by label Republic, is the ninth studio album from the genre-bending superstar. It features 15 tracks of varying styles and lengths and runs approximately an hour long. The album was released Dec. 11, 2020 and is intended as a direct sister album for “Folklore.” It also features guest appearances by the National, Haim, and Bon Iver once again.
The album’s opening track “Willow” is a great launch into the “Folklore” sonic universe again. Some of Taylor’s newer fans haven’t stopped listening to “Folklore” because of its catchy and engaging opening track, “The 1.” “Willow” starts out the more country-inspired vibe of this album from the get-go, employing the use of many acoustic instruments over more digital. Taylor’s melodies take the album in a slightly different direction that gives much of the songs a folk-pop-country fusion area. Then, she moves on to “Champagne Problems” and immediately brings us back to a singer-songwriter vibe. Swift plays the piano in a soulful ballad that has the all the sour emotion of a traditional ballad but trades out the more somber rhythmic material for more activated piano writing. The next tracks “Gold Rush” and “Tis the Damn Season” lean us more and more back into the pop vernacular, the latter becoming much more intimate than the former. It is a standout of the album because of its engaging lyrical content. “Tolerate It” returns us back to a far more somber and serious look at toxic relationships. Swift, despite her current relationship, is very adept at channeling drama about relationships. This may come from her media treatment and embarrassment. Despite that, she makes very real and raw presentations of relationship issues. “No Body, No Crime” swings the pendulum back to country style, specifically the tried and true trope of “kill your spouse” that is common in country music. “Happiness” and “Dorothea” next to each other in the album is a little odd because one is so resolutely sad and the other is so positive and revenant of a time long past. The album continues with varying tracks in several different styles until the title track “Evermore,” which blends several different musical and narrative ideas. “Evermore” features piano supported by vocals and a special bridge section sung by Bon Iver, employing a very light head voice rather than his typical baritone. This ending track supplies an excellent conclusion from the rapid fluctuation of styles present in the rest of the album.
The most remarkable feature of the album is that Swift said she recorded a large portion of the songs that went on “Evermore” and the same time she recorded “Folklore.” Why she chose to release them as two separate albums is a mystery, but no one should be complaining at more Taylor Swift especially this new style she’s evolved into: soulful singer-songwriter. “Evermore” receives an A rating.