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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Dissecting the surprise ‘evermore’ album

How storytelling takes over in Taylor Swift’s new sister album

Taylor Swift has done it again. A surprise release shocked fans when Swift shared the news about “evermore,” the sister album to her previous release “folklore.” The new album has the same whimsical vibes that fans grew to love with “folklore” and more songs written by the cherished William Bowery (the pseudonym of Joe Alwyn, Swift’s boyfriend). 

When Swift posted an iconic “not a lot going on at the moment” picture, fans assumed there would be a music video to the song “exile” or “august,” but she tricked us once again. Instead of releasing a music video for one of the fan-favorite songs, she released “evermore.” She’s a liar and we love her for it. 

It was announced that “evermore” would be a sister album, so I expected it to have the same kind of tone that “folklore” brought. But I found “evermore” to be a more mature album. The lyrics emphasize the thing Swift is best at: storytelling. 

One of my favorite things about Swift as an artist is that her albums are immensely personal. Listening to her music feels like I’m reading a page straight from her diary, and this is something her fans have felt since her debut album. It was nice to know that I was hearing a personal side of her life that she chose to share with the world. 

For this reason, “evermore” didn’t quite top “folklore” for me. With a growing maturity comes a loss of the connection that I’ve grown to feel with her music. Swift has mentioned that with these sister albums, some of the stories and characters are fictional. But in “folklore,” we still have those personal stories like “mirrorball” that speak to her unending need to be liked or “mad woman” and “my tears ricochet” that express her pain when Borchetta sold her albums. There is a personal connection in “folklore” that I didn’t quite get in “evermore.” 

While there are still a few songs on the album that do relate to Swift, like “closure,” “willow” and “marjorie,” this album was more of a series of stories that fans could play out in their heads. It was a new change that I didn’t expect from Swift, but I have to admit that it is a welcome one. She’s at a time in her life where it’s normal to want some privacy and after years in the spotlight—I’m sure that it’s craved at some points. If she wants to release an album with more fictitious stories than fans are used to, then so be it. I’ll still listen and fall in love with the characters that she’s decided to give us.

Now let’s talk about my favorite songs from the album. For years, fans have begged Swift to collaborate with a woman. While we did get that with “Soon You’ll Get Better” from the “Lover” album, I can’t listen to it without having a full cryfest, so I usually steer clear of listening to the song while in the car. But with this album fans finally got a collaboration with HAIM, the pop band and long time friends of Swift. To say the least, the collaboration was genius. The song titled “no body, no crime” very clearly plays out as a murder drama scene that’s better than any Netflix mystery movie I’ve watched. I didn’t know this song was something I needed until I heard it and I officially can’t get enough of it. The song does bring Swift back to her country roots and while that would normally put me off, it’s Swift. She could just be playing with a banjo and I’d listen. 

I would like to think that “closure” is about Scott Borchetta simply because it fits so well. “Closure” starts off with loud metal clashing and sounds that don’t sit right, but the song soon falls into a beautiful piano melody as the abruptness of the clashing metals fades into the background. The song describes someone reaching out for closure, but it’s unnecessary because the other person doesn’t want it nor do they need an apology anymore. The musicality is a beautiful reflection of Swift’s storyline in the song. The healing process is reflected in the piano, but when something interferes with it, the interference is loud and unnecessary, which is exactly what the crashes sound like in the beginning of the song. With the crashes constantly playing in the background and being dulled out as the soft piano melody takes over, it’s a beautiful testament to how the healing process isn’t linear. The people who hurt you will still be in the back of your mind, they will still consume you, and sometimes the thoughts will grow louder, but sometimes they’ll be nonexistent. 

Besides the beautiful musicality, in this album, we get to see a lot of Swift’s maturity over the years. Her songs are no longer about Romeo and Juliet, but about alcoholism and a runaway bride. One of my favorite songs in the album is titled “champagne problems” which is a take on someone losing the person they love because they couldn’t agree to marrying them and everyone else blames it on the alcoholism. Songs like this are a perfect example of why Swift is still at the top of the music industry. She can tell a story about something that is usually not discussed and can do it in four minutes.

My least favorite song of the album is “cowboy like me,” but I still have to applaud the storytelling. The song describes a con artist falling in love with another con artist and they are forced to put aside their old ways  while trying to build a life with the person they love. The song is a little slow for my taste, but after a deep dive into the lyrics, I gained a deeper admiration for it. 

This goes for most of the album—it’ll grow on you. A good number of fans are having trouble deciding which of the sister albums they love more, but I can easily tell you that “folklore” is my favorite. That’s because on the first listen of “evermore,” the only song I loved was “no body, no crime,” which is unusual for one of Swift’s albums. But after a few listens to more songs, I did slowly fall in love with the album. I didn’t have many expectations for this album, especially because I wasn’t given the time to develop them. Although I did want some faster songs, I know this album is more indie pop and country. I have been craving those upbeat songs that we’ve been used to for years, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with “evermore.” 

Fans are still skeptical after Swift debunked a surprise third album, but we are grateful that she’s been with us for the mess that has been 2020. Her songs allow me to step into another world and that’s especially true with “evermore,” where we get to meet fictitious characters that are dealing with problems I couldn’t even imagine. 
Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


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