On Dec. 10, the venerable philosopher T. Swizzle (known to the public as Taylor Swift) casually announced via social media the release of her 9th studio album: "evermore."
And just like with "folklore" not five months before, people lost their minds.
Swift announced this record as a sister record to it’s grammy-nominated predecessor, meaning it would be ripe with an indie-folk sound and vivid stories woven into the lyrics. Naturally, I—like many others—stayed up late to listen that evening.
The amazing thing about this record is that Taylor Swift managed to make lightning strike twice. Except this time, it’s not a single bolt, but a great, radiant rapture.
"evermore" is her best record.
The album ventures deeper into the “folklorean wood,” as Swift calls it. Lyrically, it’s her best to date. The stories she chooses to tell on this project are much more profound, varied and emotional than the last record. Whereas "folklore" chronicles things like the origin of her Rhode Island home and a high school love triangle, "evermore" takes us to a rejected marriage proposal, shares the simple advice of her grandmother, and gleefully indulges listeners in a revenge murder.
While "folklore" is wonderful, the lyrical choices on this project take bigger risks with much greater payoff.
Sonically, it also takes more risks than "folklore," but thankfully not to the point where it feels foreign. Rather, it is a refreshed, glittery feel. The National’s Aaron Dessner, long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff and of course, Ms. Swift produced the songs with care. "evermore" really is a headphones album, as there are many details hidden in the soundscape that further enhance the listening project.
Each track holds a tale to get lost in, but three tracks stand above all else.
“champagne problems,” is just sad. Swift tells the story of college sweethearts with two very different mindsets on the night of a marriage proposal. Equal parts emotional and enjoyable, the track takes listeners on a journey.
“coney island,” has this soft, gloomy quality. If you close your eyes, you can almost picture the fog and rain across an empty carnival. With an assist from indie-band The National, Swift creates another exile-like duet about a couple slowly falling apart.
The title track “evermore” takes the cake for best track. As a closer, it feels satisfying. After going on a journey through fact and fiction, Swift brings us back to center to where she was towards the end of making this record: lost and broken. In a way, she puts the way many of us feel after this exhausting year to song. It’s so raw. However, not all is lost, as the bridge (featuring the lovely Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame) brings us back into the light, leaving listeners more hopeful than not.
This track moved me to tears.
"evermore" is a lush, fairy tale-esque album that immerses listeners in the stories, some real, some not, all the while keeping with the earthy folk sound of her last project. Building on its predecessor’s strengths, her 9th studio album is the definitive Taylor Swift album.
Looking back, we’ve had many great moments in music in the past 12 months. However, you'd be hard pressed to deny that 2020 is—rightfully—the year of Taylor Swift.
And may her majesty reign for "evermore."