Taylor Swift’s Surprise Album


Eva Rinaldi

Taylor Swift sings on her “Speak Now” tour. Her return to country music in “evemore” is reminiscent of her “Speak Now” era. Banjos were common in “evermore”. Used with permission via flickr.

Saahithya Gutta, Lifestyle & Features Editor, Social Media Lead

Taylor Swift’s talent truly knows no bounds and it has never been more evident than now. Her release of “folklore” on July 24th, 2020 came as a surprise to all her fans, but what’s even more shocking is that only five months after the release of her eighth album, Swift released another one. Her ninth studio album released December 11th at midnight along with a music video for her first song, “willow”.

“evermore” has 15 songs with two bonus tracks and is the sister album to “folklore”. Each song in this album has a distinctly different sound but the one thing that links them all together (other than Swift’s characteristic story-telling) is the calming tones and the lower notes. These songs are all incredibly soothing and beautiful even though each one seems to be from a different genre and era of Taylor Swift. And, as always, Swift blessed her fans with as many easter eggs and references to past songs as possible. 


Song Reviews

“willow” –  In all honesty, I enjoyed “willow” more than “cardigan”. This song is a little more upbeat while still being peaceful. Taylor Swift’s higher notes on the chorus contrast nicely with the lower notes on the verses and the bridge. And while the music and vocals of the song were spectacular, the lyrics and music video were incredibly clever in their easter eggs. The music video starts out with Swift following a golden string into a piano which leads her to a magical world. At each place the gold string takes her, she sees a glimpse of her lover. This motif of the gold string tying her to her love was first introduced in “invisible string” from her July 2020 album “folklore”. From the very first song, we can already see the references to “folklore”. In the chorus, Taylor Swift sings, “wreck my plans” which ties to “august” from “folklore”, where one of the lyrics says “canceled my plans just in case you’d call”. In the bridge, it says, “I come back stronger than a 90’s trend”. The first song in “folklore” is titled “cardigan” and cardigans were a huge trend in the ’90s. Also in “cardigan”, there’s a lyric that goes “You drew stars around my scars” which is referenced in the third verse of “willow” where Taylor Swift sings, “Show me the places where others gave you scars”. The lyrics talk about this relationship and compare it to a lot of fantastical things. In this way, Swift makes the relationship seem more childish than it is but it’s like she doesn’t care. Overall, this song was an incredibly strong start to the album

“champagne problems” – Despite how sad it is, this is my favorite song in the album. There’s something about the melody that’s captivating. It’s both soothing and enthralling. It has a soft piano track in the background and unlike past songs where Swift sings louder on the bridge, there’s no such crescendo in “champagne problems”. This song is sort of cyclical the way “the last great american dynasty” was. The difference is that while “the last great american dynasty” starts with someone else and ends with Taylor Swift, “champagne problems” starts with her and ends with someone else. Furthermore, “the last american dynasty” was about Rebekah Harkness who was known for using Dom Perignon champagne to clean out her pool. In “champagne problems” Swift references the same brand of champagne. The song also has a reference to “mad woman”. In the bridge, Swift sings “‘This dorm was once a madhouse’ I made a joke, ‘Well, it’s made for me’” implying that she belongs in a madhouse. “champagne problems” is about college sweethearts that had very different plans. One of them wanted to propose while the other wanted to break up. The one that wanted to break up struggles with their mental health and the townspeople stigmatize it. Despite how sad the song is, there’s no denying how good it is.

“gold rush” – My favorite line in this song is “With your hair falling into place like dominoes”. It shows up in each of the verses and I just absolutely adore how Taylor Swift sings it. Other than that line, however, I didn’t think it was all too great. The song is about jealousy and wanting someone everyone else wants. In the song, she is daydreaming about having a life with this coveted person, and then she snaps out of it. At the very beginning, it mentions ships that are sinking which was also found in “my tears ricochet” in “folklore”. This is song is also the first time Taylor Swift lyrically references the title of her 8th album, “folklore”. In the second verse, she sings, “My mind turns your life into folklore”. The only time she came remotely close to referencing the title is in “seven” when she sings “Passed down like folk songs”. The song ends and begins with the same three lines about “sinking ships” and water. Despite not being my favorite, this is still a good song with incredibly clever lyrics.

“’tis the damn season” – Taylor Swift carefully crafted a world in “folklore” with the songs “cardigan”, “august”, and “betty”. With “’tis the damn season” and “dorothea” she’s added to it. “’tis the damn season” is from the point of view of a girl named Dorothea who left her small town to hit it big in Hollywood. This song takes place when she returns from Hollywood and reconnects with an ex. The chorus of this song is really catchy and has a reference to “cardigan”. It says, “You could call me ‘babe’ for the weekend” and it “cardigan” there’s a lyric that goes “Giving me your weekends”. In the second verse, it says “The holidays linger like a bad perfume” and in “illicit affairs” from “folklore” Swift mentions perfume. This song isn’t really all that deep or thought-invoking. It’s just catchy and fun.

“tolerate it” – This is, quite possibly, the most depressing song in the album. It’s about how this person is the only one putting in effort into a relationship while their partner is incredibly condescending and dismissive. This song is my least favorite on the album for no particular reason. It’s still really good and the lyrics are amazing but I just wasn’t a fan of it. There were a few references to “folklore” in “tolerate it”. The first reference happens in the second line of the song which says “I wake and watch you breathing with your eyes closed”. In “epiphany” it says “Watch you breathe in, watch you breathing out”. In the bridge of “tolerate it”, Taylor Swift sings “Where’s the man who’d throw blankets over my barbed wire?” which relates back to “invisible string” where she sings “Something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire”. Even though the lyrics are clever and incredibly vulnerable, the melody of this song is really sad and honestly kind of forgettable.

“no body, no crime” – The sixth track of “evermore” is the one people have been raving about the most from what I’ve seen. “no body, no crime” is a country song whose lyrics tell a true crime story. It’s very catchy and the narrative Taylor Swift spins with her lyrics is intriguing. In the story, Este confronts her husband about his infidelity and he murders her. To avenge her friend, the narrator murders the husband but everyone thinks it’s the mistress who committed the crime. There aren’t any references to “folklore” in this song but it’s still one of the most raved about songs on the album. I especially like the police sirens at the beginning. I thought it was such a nice touch. Overall, “no body, no crime” is catchy, thrilling, and entertaining.

“happiness” – Despite the name, “happiness” is one of the most depressing songs in the album. While “tolerate it” was depressing because of its lyrics, “happiness” just sounded depressing. The first line, “Honey, when I’m above the trees”, is a reference to “seven” from “folklore” where it says “Please picture me in the trees”. Another line in the first verse, “Showed you all of my hiding spots”, relates to the line in “cardigan” that says “Playing hide-and-seek and giving me your weekends”. This is a good song but it’s a little depressing for my taste. I prefer songs that are more calming than depressing.

“dorothea” – While “’tis the damn season” was from Dorothea’s point of view, “dorothea” is from her ex’s point of view. There aren’t any references to “folklore” in this song, however, the lyrics are still clever well-written.  My favorite line of the whole song is in the chorus where Taylor Swift sings, “The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo”. I also really like the second verse. I think the best way to describe “dorothea” is that it’s fun. It’s just simply fun. “dorothea” is one of the more upbeat songs on the album and it sounds like nostalgia and childhood memories. It reads of slight regret and a longing for the past.

“coney island” – “coney island” is my second favorite song of the whole album for two big reasons. Number 1, The National’s frontman, Matt Berninger’s voice is brilliant. Number 2, the entire song is a work of pure lyrical genius. This song is calming and captivating and I absolutely adore it. The only references to “folklore” happen in the pre-chorus and the bridge which, coincidentally, are my two favorite parts of the song. In the pre-chorus, Taylor Swift sings “‘Cause we were like the mall before the internet” which relates back to “august” where one of the most iconic lines was “Meet me behind the mall”. In the bridge, Matt Berninger sings “Were you standing in a hallway” and in “exile” Bon Iver sings “Holdin’ all this love out here in the hall”. The lyrics in the bridge that Matt Berninger sings are my favorite in the whole album and every time they come on I have to stop whatever it is I’m doing and sing along. I have an inexplicably immense amount of love for the bridge of this song.

“ivy” – “ivy” had no references to “folklore” and nothing that really made it stand out. The tenth track is about a married woman falling in love with someone else and this leads to an affair. Taylor Swift has had a few songs about affairs in the past and it’s been interesting to see how her view of infidelity has changed as she’s matured. Funnily enough, “ivy” is the tenth track of “evermore” and it’s about an affair and the tenth track in “folklore” was “illicit affairs” which was also about an affair. Unlike “illicit affairs”, “ivy” isn’t incredibly somber and quiet. “ivy” has a dream-like quality to it and is beautiful.

“cowboy like me” – The 11th track is about two thieves falling in love. “cowboy like me” is also a country song and has so many cool instruments. There were a plethora of string instruments other than guitars in this song and they all sound so good. “cowboy like me” is really sweet and has some clever lyrics. My personal favorite is “Forever is the sweetest con”. I think this song is calming, cute, and simple.

“long story short” – I know I’ve said this for multiple songs now, but “long story short” is really catchy. Before I heard “coney island”, this was my second favorite. There are a few references to “folklore” in “long story short”. The last line of the first verse says “walk in it ’till your high heels break” and in “mirrorball” Taylor Swift sings “Spinning in my highest heels”. In the second verse, she sings “And we live in peace” which references the title of the fifteenth song in “folklore”, “peace”. In the bridge, the first line says “No more keepin’ score” which goes along with the line in “hoax” that says “what’s the point of keeping score”. Near the end of the bridge, there are two liens that say “Now I just keep you warm (keep you warm)/And my waves meet your shore”. These lines correspond with the lines in “peace” that say “But I’m a fire and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm/If your cascade, ocean wave blues come“. Although this song is catchy, I think it can get old and overplayed quickly.

“marjorie” – Any Swiftie worth their salt knows that 13 is Taylor Swift’s lucky number which is why “marjorie” is extra special. “marjorie” is about Taylor Swift’s grandmother who was an opera singer. She was the one who convinced Taylor Swift to pursue her dreams in music and she was the one who helped Taylor Swift along. What’s really special about this song is that her grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, is listed as one of the background vocalists for this song. Swift used some recordings of her grandmother’s singing and incorporated them into the song. The thirteenth song in “folklore” was “epiphany” and Swift wrote it about her grandfather, it was only fitting that the 13th track of “evermore” was reserved for her grandmother. “marjorie” is such a sweet song, and anyone who’s close with their grandmother or who has lost a loved one can relate to it. “marjorie” is extremely special and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album.

“closure” – I think in some ways, “closure” is highly satisfying. In the song, the narrator goes off on an ex who can’t stand the fact that she’s still mad at him. Many fans think Taylor Swift wrote this song about her problems with Scooter Braun. No matter who it’s about, though, there’s no denying the amount of spite in “closure”. I think “closure” will resonate with a lot of people because it can apply to a lot of situations. It’s about accepting your anger and accepting that it’s okay to be angry. Not everything needs a pretty resolution or happily ever after. For somethings, it’s impossible to be anything but angry, and that’s alright. Despite its heavy message, “closure” is incredibly upbeat and preppy. I think it just adds to the spite and anger though.

“evermore” – Last, but certainly not least, is “evermore”, the song named after the album title. “evermore” is the second song Taylor Swift has collaborated with Bon Iver on, the first being “exile” from “folklore”. In the second verse of “evermore”, Swift even references “exile”. She sings “Can’t remember/What I used to fight for” and in “exile” Bon Iver sings “So what am I defending now”. Another line in the second verse says “Sending signals” and in “exile” the idea of warning signs is repeated throughout the song. In my opinion, “exile” was better than “evermore” however, “evermore” is still a good song. It’s most certainly a good closing song for the album.

“evermore” was a joyful surprise, something we haven’t had a lot of in 2020. Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album is perfect to set the mood for the final bit of 2020. The calming and cozy vibe surrounding it is just what we need for the winter. Although some songs took a bit to grow on me, I still thoroughly enjoyed the album and I think there are a lot of people that would agree with me.