By Ben King
Taylor Swift has done it again; a mere 5 months after her acclaimed LP Folklore dropped unexpectedly, she released her second great album of 2020 with Evermore – announced mere hours before dropping. It certainly seems like Swift has grown to care for this release strategy as both records were announced less than 24 hours before their release. In the era of constant consumption, where artists are expected to deliver music videos, live shows, photoshoots, and interviews all within one album cycle, Swift has reached a point in her career where she’d rather let the music speak for itself. Described by Swift herself as a “sister” record to its predecessor, the 17 track album proves that Folklore was not a fluke record and that she has slipped comfortably into this new genre as one slips into their most beloved cardigan.
Evermore has the same list of collaborators this time around, with Aaron Dessner elevating to a much more substantial role; producing 16 out of the 17 tracks on the record. The frontman of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, is back for another duet with Swift, while first-time collaborator, HAIM, joins the exclusive roster of musical talent.
The record focuses on themes of love, infidelity, grief, regret, and longing. Pensive recollections and bittersweet memories flood listeners’ ears on “Dorothea”, while stone-faced fury and scathing remarks permeate “Happiness”. Swift’s ability to capture these feelings through her lyrics is a testament to her remarkable penmanship. While the production is more subtle than Folklore, which can occasionally cause the tracks to blend as one, the lyricism is just as, if not even more, devastatingly detailed. Evermore bounces between murder mysteries, country-tinged ballads, exquisitely placed remarks, and lingering sadness to create a truly eclectic album.
In “Tolerate it”, Swift crushingly sings about how her love is only grudgingly put up with instead of celebrated. She sings, “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky/Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life”, effortlessly capturing the essence of when one person is head over heels for someone who doesn’t reciprocate their feelings.
“Cowboy like me”, is a stunningly stripped back tune, with bolts of lightning crackling through the track, landing in the form of the resonant guitar riffs strewn about. The lyrics paint a picture of unyielding, precarious love, balanced only by the serpentine acts of each partner.
With each relisten of Evermore, more details are dusted off and uncovered, creating a delicately nuanced project. Even after two incredible albums released in a span of a few months, I can’t wait to see what Swift will come up with next. After all, it’s her fairytale – we’re all just characters living in the margins of her notebook, waiting to be placed into her spellbinding narratives.