Taylor Swift surprised fans again by releasing her ninth studio album “evermore” on Dec. 11. “evermore” comes less than five months after her release of the current Grammy-nominated for Album of the Year, “folklore.” Now, returning to the same fantastical realm that she introduced to the world a mere five months ago, Swift ventures deeper into the “folklorian” woods and touches on stories that “folklore” didn’t finish to tell.
“evermore,” which acts as a sister album to “folklore,” is more sonically influenced by Swift’s country days and “1989” days, seen evident in the respective songs “cowboy like me” and “long story short.” Extending the theme of storytelling through poetic lyrics and distinct musicality, Swift continually intertwines fictional characters and their stories with her own in the album.
The 15-track record, which has Swift, The National’s Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff continuing as producers, touches on stories like two college sweethearts having different perspectives on one fateful engagement night (“champagne problems”) and a famed entertainer who made it big in Hollywood returning back to her hometown and embarking on a relationship with a past flame (“‘tis the d*** season”). Furthermore, there is one song that is reminiscent of the dark themes of death in “my tears ricochet” on “folklore” — “no body, no crime (feat. HAIM)” details about a woman getting away with murder that draws parallels to The Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.”
“Cowboy like me,” a heavily country and acoustic guitar-based song, even goes into detail about two con artists trying to trick potential victims while also falling in love with each other. The lyrics, “Telling all the rich folks anything they wanna hear / Like it could be love” and “It could be love / We could be the way forward / And I know I’ll pay for it,” represent the conflicting choice of picking to plot schemes or choosing love. Centered around a country-tinged background, they decide to fall in love and recognize that there is a fragility in confiding and setting one’s guard aside.
Likewise, the echoey piano-based “champagne problems” creates a two-sided narrative centered on one night — one side who has planned to propose and one side who has planned to break off the relationship. These two perspectives are respectively seen in the lyrics: “You had a speech, you’re speechless / Love slipped beyond your reaches” and “Because I dropped your hand while dancing / Left you out there standing.” This dichotomy allows listeners to understand multiple perspectives of the same situation and even highlights how two people can view a relationship with wildly different lenses.
Upon the release of “evermore,” Swift took to Twitter to state that she had a choice to either “turn back and go back or to travel further into the forest of [folklore’s] music.” Her collaborators and herself chose the latter, creating a skillfully crafted storyline that demands to be replayed over and over again. It’s through these imaginary — or as Swift states, “not imaginary” — tales that feel as if there is a continuous progression and mirroring between “folklore” and “evermore.”
Seen both lyrically and sonically, there are intersecting themes in both albums. The titles and album art of the two albums are seen to mirror each other, as Swift is seen staring up at the woods in front of the camera for “folklore” while she is now seen with her back turned to the camera facing the woods in “evermore.”
A particular instance of mirroring in Swift’s lyricism between the two albums is evident in connecting catchy guitar and melodious piano-centered “willow” to “invisible string.” As seen in the music video of “willow,” there is a visual of a golden string that references one lyric in “invisible string:” “One single thread of gold tied me to you.” Additionally, the lyrics, “Show me the places where the others gave you scars” references the lyrics, “You drew stars around my scars / But now I’m bleedin,’” in “cardigan.”
Although there is no overarching “cardigan”/“august”/“betty” teenage love triangle like the one written about in “folklore,” Swift introduces and breathes life into new characters in the mix of this album. One connection, of many, is the opposite perspectives of the two characters in “‘tis the d*** season” and “dorothea.”
“‘Tis the d*** season,” which is filled with electric guitar and a brassy drum, correlates to the folksy and upbeat “dorothea;” one perspective revolves around a famed actress returning back to her hometown and getting into a fling with a boy she left behind while the other is told through the perspective of the boy that was left behind in the town and is hopeful about the relationship with the girl who left. Specific lyrics that show the parallelism and connection between the two songs are “So I’ll go back to L.A. and the so-called friends / Who’ll write books about me, if I ever make it” and “You got shiny friends since you left town / A tiny screen’s the only place I see you now.”
Echoing the sentiments of “folklore,” “evermore” indulges in the whims of isolation and includes touches of Swift’s own sincerity of moving on from a previous relationship, as evidenced in the mellow and synth-based “happiness:” “There’ll be happiness after you / But there was happiness because of you / Both of these things can be true.”
For those who liked “folklore,” “evermore” is a 15-track continuation of it, with Swift at the forefront, guiding an adventure along the forest path. “evermore” parallels the craftsmanship of “folklore,” allowing for Swift’s imagination to soar and wander to reimagined heights.
Ryan Mikeala Nguyen is a 2020-2021 Co-Copy Editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.