by Conner Tighe This year has been full of surprises but nothing quite as crazy as the surprise release of Taylor Swift’s latest album Folklore. This is Swift’s eighth album, and it’s a great one for sure. Quarantine has been good to Swift, and she reveals her full potential once again with the follow-up to Lover — which was her greatest album to date. The cover art of Folklore is perfect with its ominous black and white forestry. There is nothing like an unexpected, album drop from one of the greatest female artists of our time, and album eight shows that surprises are worth waiting for. At last, the Swifties have been saved. There is a grace and bravery that stems through this sad and grim album. With an echoed sound and lessons that only Swift could manage to convey through song, there is something here that Lover couldn’t offer. Folklore is more of a co-parent with Lover — not any better or worse — but simply touching on different topics of discussion proper for this sad summer of disease and unfortunate data. Folklore is a hero of our time, and it is doubtful that there will be anything like it for the rest of 2020.
The last hurrah for summer 2020Folklore introduces a new side of Swift to her longtime fans. Her transition from country to pop was slow but worthwhile in her search for sound; now, album eight is introducing an alternative path for the singer. There is an indie appeal in many of her tracks like “The Last Great American Dynasty,” “The 1” and “August.” All create fresh sounds that Swift performs exceedingly well. The album is fantastic. It’s everything we need for this “cruel summer.” Speaking of cruel, there are some suggestions of hurt where the singer hints at the pain of breakups. Swift has been happily dating actor Joe Alwyn, but Folklore might suggest that something has happened between the two. These lovebirds have been together for three years and have even been quarantining together — which is the new dating of 2020. It’s possible that Swift could be dwelling on past love affairs, but many guess the tracks like “Illicit Affairs” and “Mad Woman” have to do with her relationship with Alwyn. This is all speculation of course, but nothing is completely off the table — as we’ve seen in everything going on this year. Whether Swift and Alwyn are broken up or not, this album is a celebration of sadness and being together or apart during the year of COVID-19.
Folk in FolkloreIs it pop? Is it indie? Is it folk? Swift brings a variety of genres to her latest album. Light wispy echoes and harmonicas break up the pop appeal — which is unlike the singer’s usual sound — but its uniqueness is appreciated. There’s so much to dissect in this 16-track folktale. Secret messages and unfamiliar sounds are only pieces of the puzzle presented here; like the cover art, listeners will feel like they’re wandering through a forest of whispers and echoes of the past. It’s soothing to listen to. Swift is telling us that we aren’t alone in our fights within ourselves and with this year. We all have universal struggles and Swift shows she understands this.
Time for collaborationsIndie folk band Bon Iver lent its talent to track four, “Exile,” which is a wonderfully strong song. It’s a slow, melodic piece about relationship issues that everyone can relate to from their own lives. If nothing else, listeners should hear what “Exile” has to say as they, too, will become entranced in its beautiful message and sound. Rock band member Aaron Dessner from The National co-wrote 11 of the 16 tracks that are featured on Folklore. Swift has never had trouble connecting with others in the music business, and the singer once again demonstrates the possibilities that collaborations bring to the table. Top Tracks: Invisible String Exile August Recommended if You Like: Kelsea Ballerini Selena Gomez Ed Sheeran
Featured Image: Official Charts