Stars: 5/5

It is impossible to argue that Taylor Swift doesn’t love her fans.

Swift announced the Dec. 11 release of her ninth album “Evermore” just six months after its sister record “Folklore.” Swift told her fans that “Folklore” left her with a choice to turn back or dig deeper into her music. The one album each era trend is one that Swift will no longer continue.

“I also know this holiday season will be a lonely one for most of us and if there are any of you out there who turn to music to cope with missing loved ones the way I do, this is for you,” Swift tweeted and she was spot on.

The first track, “willow,” began very fittingly with her description of this album. A forest she traveled deeper into following “folklore.” A similar sound with a slightly colder feel to open this 15-track album.

“You booked the night train for a reason, so you could sit there in this hurt,” Swift sings on the second track “champagne problems.” Her ability to write the feelings of hurt so explicitly is remarkable. The soft simple piano melody lets you wallow in the melancholic lyrics.

Jack Antonoff serves up a production masterclass with the third track, “gold rush.” Intricate instrumentation continues to swell into an explosion of sounds to fall back again. 

Swift loves to sing of empty hope. She has such high expectations and tolerance for disappointment in her love interests. The man she knows is now a shell of herself, but she still greets him with a “battle hero’s welcome” on the track “tolerate it.” The fifth track connects back to the fifth track on “folklore” where Swift mentions a battle hero saving face. Tying the two albums together speaks to the genius of Swift’s artistry and the freedom that writing her own music gives her as a creator.

Haim’s instrumentation gives shades of early Swift music coupled with her matured production and song structure. I also feel the intensity of the young Swift as she sings about getting away with murder on “no body, no crime.” The background talking in between the lyrics definitely gives shades of the “speak now” era Swift. The Haim feature allows her to create a fresh fast tempo sound unique to this album.

I believe that these past two albums were made specifically for me. The string plucking paired with the piano. It is on display yet again on “happiness.” The folk vibes are strong with this one. I am glad that Swift had this kind of era. It compliments her early style and her rare ability to sing slowly and softly while maintaining as much meaning as her singing loudly.

“Dorothea” feels like “betty” from folklore and Swift responded to a fan revealing that they attended the same school in a live Q&A. 

The National feature on “coney island” surprised me in a good way. I did not expect them to sing together after trading verses. The mildness of Swift’s voice paired with the deep voice of Matt Berninger. “Sorry for not making you my centerfold,” they sing in unison. 

Taylor Swift’s “ivy” cannot touch Frank Ocean’s “Ivy,” but the emotions are in no way dull. “God damn, my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand,” Swift sings over the calming track. The way she continuously sings painful lyrics over tracks that are fun to listen to but still seem to match the mood is odd, but I am not complaining.

“Reputation” provided some bangers and the beat on “long story short” reminded me of that album. The electrical sounds provide us with a very upbeat track. Again, the lyrics are not joyous but you still feel the need to dance to this track when the beat picks up. 

“Never be so kind you forget to be clever, never be so clever you forget to be kind,” Swift starts on “marjorie” with intense lyrics. She often speaks of her attempts at appearing like a good girl that ultimately made her forget her power. We get an insight into the growth and maturity of Swift and the balance she has been able to obtain. Knowing that she writes her own lyrics makes it all the more heartfelt.

A loud and a rather weird drum loop carries us into the second to last song, “closure.” We see more of the soft piano she has used recently. She sings like a person reciting poetry on this track. The very sporadic style of this song while using familiar sounds keeps the album interesting yet cohesive. 

Bon Iver was the sole feature on Swift’s last album, and it was a wonderful feature that left fans yearning for more of this collaboration. If she is going to do anything, she will provide for her fans. Two minutes and 40 seconds into the song the piano loop suddenly changes. A magical explosion of sound erupts as Bon Iver comes in passionately. The emotion the track exudes as Swift pops back in with her and Bon Iver’s words overlapping is overwhelming in the best way possible. The second half of this five-minute track is the most interesting and acoustically pleasing part of this album, providing an extremely worthy ending to an exceptional album.

2020 has been a year many will attempt to forget. Swift has now left behind two memorable albums for Swifties to listen to during this tough year and far beyond. Giving this album 5 stars means that “folklore” deserves six. Let the record show that no matter the genre, Swift has always released good music.

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