Words: Lauren Dehollogne
Taylor Swift once known as America’s sweetheart in her younger country days easily transitioned to pop music with her fifth album ‘1989’ but that she could pull off the evolution to indie-folk as effortlessly no one would’ve ever thought. ‘folklore’ is everything Swift has to offer and so much more.
It’s the grown-up, more horrifying tales of her third album ‘Speak Now’ with the heartbreaking romanticism of ‘Red’ and the adult themes seen on ‘Reputation’. ‘folklore’ contains all the best Taylor Swift has used throughout her catalogue with a twist that establishes her reign as the best lyricist this century has seen.
When Swift announced her album a few hours before the album was about to be released she set aside all the traditional values she held on to. No longer did she prepare her ever-growing fanbase with “Easter-eggs” and previously heard singles. Her long-standing collaboration with Jack Antonoff has evolved into as Swift calls her “musical-family” and has proven to be the only left-over traditional value this album contains. Together with The National’s Aaron Dessner she created a completely new atmosphere and collaborated with Bon Iver on the fourth track ‘exile’.
One could wonder why this album has not happened before. Bon Iver and Taylor Swift’s voices melt together and create the most profound and heartbreaking sound. ‘exile’ would be the perfect addition to the soundtrack to any romantic indie-film. In ‘my tears ricochet’ Swift talks about the gruesome tale that expanded throughout the last few years on every major news platform – the tale about her losing the rights to her masters – her feud with Scooter Braun and former record label boss Scott Borchetta. “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace. ‘Cause when I’d fight, you used to tell me I was brave and if I’m dead to you why are you at the wake?” shows that she put all of herself in there and then to be so helplessly defeated broke her.
This world has not been kind to her from ganging up on her and deciding to call her “a snake”, to making her hide in order to heal the scars the general public had given her. In ‘Reputation’ she clapped back with an aggressive force but in ‘folklore’ we learn the hard truth about how we broke her and how Swift had to build herself up again. ‘mirrorball’ and ‘mad women’ are perfect examples of how the feeling of betrayal has stuck with her whilst we all forgot and moved on to the next victim.
To think about how I and many others started listening to Taylor Swift as a clueless child almost seems too surreal. How would my life have been different if I didn’t fall in love with Taylor Swift’s music 13 years ago? ‘Seven’ grabs that feeling for me and all the other countless fans who started our journey as a lifelong Swift fan at seven. In ‘Seven’ she proposes the question “Are there still beautiful things?” and then answers it herself with “Passed down like folk songs the love lasts so long”. Because just like the track our innocence started out with a wonderful drive to explore the world and we ended up stumbling onto Taylor Swift, the love that has guided us through the whirlwind called life.
Perhaps ‘the last great american dynasty” is her biggest connection to ‘Red’ whether it is the theme about old-time love found in dynasty families like Rebekah and William Harkness or Ethel and Robert “Bobby” Kennedy or just the magical, nostalgic vibe flowing through the air. It reminds us of the Taylor Swift we all came to love. She even comes back to one of her famous exes on ‘Invisible Strings’ with “Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart. Now I send their babies presents.”.
‘folklore’ is an album made for the cold, rainy days when everything looks gloomy and mystic. It’s not necessarily as “fun” as her last album ‘Lover’ but it is everything it needs to be and more. If ever someone was to capture the feeling of autumn it would have to be ‘folklore’. Taylor Swift’s remedy to the hell-hole known as 2020 is the most magical and enchanting therapy formed into an album known to man. To ever to be able to explain ‘folklore’ we would need to ponder and then write an entire novel about life and heightened emotions and even then it won’t ever come close to describe the masterpiece Taylor Swift created.