When Taylor Swift released her surprise LP, Evermore, it sent the fanbase into disarray; including a couple of our editors. After regaining their bearings they took to the keyboards to note their thoughts on the latest from the world’s biggest pop star…
Faith Pring (Editor-in-Chief):
When Taylor Swift announces a surprise album, it is a natural reaction for her biggest fans to immediately go into panic mode, planning streaming parties, watch parties and doing everything they can to give the album its best chances of success. Similarly to Folklore, Swift’s surprise album in July, there was no lead-up to the release, no marketing budget, and relied solely on the word of mouth.
Evermore is just another example of Swift’s songwriting genius. Once again creating this album in a socially-distant manner, telling her record label only a week before its release, Swift gifted her fans with a plethora of slow, melodic and painfully reminiscent songs that make us all feel awful about how unproductive we’ve been during the lockdown.
Fresh from leading this year’s Grammy nominations, Swift treated us to songs like tolerate it which is as heart-breaking as it is brutally honest. She tells the story of someone whose love is not reciprocated by another. Has she imagined the whole thing in her head? Is it worth cutting and running while she still can? The stripped-back piano on this tune makes for a delicate and heart-wrenching song.
The magic of songwriting is that she has the ability to take anything and make it into a relatable story, one that the majority of her fans can resonate with. coney island is Swift’s collaboration with The National, and was an instant favourite of mine. Swift once again sings about a failed love, asking: “where did my baby go?” and asking if two people are in it for the long-haul, how did the relationship end so soon? For the people who believe Swift only ever writes about her relationship, she demonstrates her most mature and sophisticated songwriting on Evermore and its sister album Folklore, redefining herself as a singer-songwriter.
gold rush is just another example of that, with the songwriting only being outmatched by the expert production. Producers Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner expertly create a backing track to Swift’s vocals that showcase her fear of being involved with someone that everyone else wants. She demonstrates her skills in this more upbeat melody that became an instant favourite of the majority of listeners. gold rush is a song that could easily have been placed on any other of Swift’s albums but effectively shows how Swift has evolved as an artist since her debut in 2006.
Is this country-inspired, melodic and alternative vibe what we can now expect from Swift? Only time will tell.
Robbie Nichols (Creative Corner Editor):
It’s not often a singer drops a surprise album. It takes a big following for that kind of stunt to do well. Taylor Swift managed to do it twice in one year, and she did it well. Evermore is the follow-up to her previous album Folklore. She refers to it as its sister. This album marks the first time the singer has ever had an era span two albums, and oh boy am I glad she did.
Until Evermore’s release, I was certain Folklore was my favourite Swift album, but Evermore has pushed its way to the top. The album takes everything Swift did on Folklore and pushed it further, and it continues to work for her. Many reviews are saying it is the younger sister of Folklore, but I have to argue that it’s the older sister. The album has the same focus on storytelling as Folklore did, but the songs are based much more in adult stories. Folklore told the story of a teenage love triangle. Evermore feels more like Swift telling stories of her life now.
My favourite songs on the album run from track three to track five – gold rush, ’tis the damn season, and tolerate it. gold rush is unexpected; it takes twist after turn until you’re not sure where the song is going. But it works. It’s such a high point for the album. ’tis the damn season is a surprisingly sad song that really sneaks up on you. The more I’ve listened to it, the higher it has crept up on me as a favourite. tolerate it is a gut punch in song form. Track 5 on a Swift album is always the saddest and yet tolerate it somehow feels like her saddest yet, telling the story of someone giving all their love to their partner and them just simply tolerating that. Devastating.
However, lead single willow cannot be ignored. The album opener soars as a love song, with Swift’s falsetto rising beautifully over a folk-inspired instrumental. Also, I have to give a shout out to the Haim collaboration no body, no crime too. The story of Swift killing the cheating husband of her best friend, who seemingly killed said best friend is a fun listen. It’s also the closest to her country roots that Taylor Swift has edged in a long time.
Despite a couple of songs in the middle that I’m not completely in love with (Sorry Faith, but coney island just doesn’t do it for me), Evermore is Taylor Swift at her best. She focuses on that storytelling that she does so well and sets it to glorious melodies and breathy harmonies. The album showcases Swift’s best vocals and some of her best songwriting. This year has really been the year of Swift.
Feature Image Credit: Taylor Swift