Taylor Swift is most renowned for her songwriting ability and being able to take people on a musical journey. During a worldwide pandemic, when events, movies and albums were cancelled or postponed, Taylor Swift dropped not one, but two surprise albums. “Folklore” was dropped in the summer of 2020 and “Evermore” in the winter. These two albums were perfectly timed with the seasons, stresses and emotions of the rollercoaster year of 2020 to bring us stories and give us the good cries we all needed. My favorite part of both of these albums was that most of the songs weren’t specifically about her life, like most of her more recent albums have been. The songs told stories and conveyed feelings we could all relate to.
Starting with “Folklore,” Swift wrote about childhood nostalgia, mental illness and, most notably, a full trilogy of songs about a teenage love triangle. Each of these songs may be about some character, but listeners can relate to them all. The three songs, “cardigan,” “august” and “betty” are about a boy who makes a mistake, the girl he hurts and the girl unknowingly caught in the crossfire.
The second surprise album “Evermore” has even more fiction, but we see the characters in more difficult situations: a wife realizing a problem in her relationship, a rejected proposal and even murder. Each of these albums is filled to the brim with stories and tragedies only amplified by the music behind them.
On these albums, Swift reverts to a more country, folk-style of music. Listeners can hear her country roots on songs like “no body no crime” and “betty” with the western instruments and storytelling elements. However, Swift doesn’t ditch her recent pop style as it can be seen in songs like “long story short” and “my tears ricochet.”
Swift recorded both of these albums from her DIY studio in her home. All of the songs were created and recorded in quarantine by herself and her collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner.
Jack Antonoff first worked with Swift on her previous album “Lover” and has worked with other well-known artists like Lorde and Lana Del Ray. He is also lead singer in the band Bleachers and former member of the band Fun. Aaron Dessner is the founding member of the band The National with whom Swift duets on the ninth song of “Evermore,” “coney island.” She also worked with the band Bon Iver, led by Justin Vernon, who is featured on the song “exile” from “Folklore” and the title song “evermore,” as well as providing backup vocals on several songs from her second surprise album.
Swift also revealed a third mystery collaborator “William Bowery” as her boyfriend of four years actor Joe Alwyn. “Bowery” co-wrote two of the songs from “Folklore,” “betty” and “exile,” and three songs from “Evermore,” “champagne problems,” “coney island,” and the title song. Both of these sister albums are available on Spotify, Apple Music and most streaming platforms.
Both of these albums were written during lockdown, and Swift took this as an opportunity to let her imagination run wild and take all of us with her. Every song was a full story with characters listeners can relate to. Through these albums, Swift reminded her listeners of better times. It’s hard to rank these two sister albums, but my personal favorite is “Evermore.”I feel like this album wrapped up the bad feelings of 2020. There isn’t a song that I want to skip. Each of them is what I like to call an “emotional banger.” She ended this album on the title song “evermore,” which happens to be my favorite. This song was really the perfect way to close out 2020, because it reminds its listeners to hold out hope in rough times. 2020 was stressful and sad and depressing and painful, but these albums and particularly this song reminds us that this pain will not be for “evermore.”