In a world where people credit Swift’s talent to celeb drama and heartbreak comes an album that blends fiction and real life stories together. This album is Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album folklore, and it may just be her best yet.
After waking up to the news that Miss Swift would be dropping a surprise album in less than 24 hours, I conjured up predictions. Would it go back to 2006 and give us Tim McGraw vibes? Would it be rebellious like Reputation? Or would a new reincarnation of Me! take center stage?
Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore. Surprise 🤗Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine; @aarondessner (who has co-written or produced 11 of the 16 songs), @boniver (who co-wrote and was kind enough to sing on one with me), William Bowery (who co-wrote two with me) and @jackantonoff (who is basically musical family at this point). Engineered by Laura Sisk and Jon Low, mixed by Serban Ghenea & Jon Low. The album photos were shot by the amazing @bethgarrabrant. Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with. Love you guys so much ♥️
After listening to the 16-song tracklist, it became clear all of Swift’s previous creations were pit stops on the way to this masterpiece. While Swift excels at reinvention, and undeniably anything she sets her musical mind to, the simplicity of folklore reminds listeners that she is a singer-songwriter first.
Because TS8 is stripped back and muted, Swift’s lyrical genius is on full display. Lyrics like “But I knew you'd linger like a tattoo kiss,” and “August sipped away like a bottle of wine” makes me reminiscent of All Too Well — the cult favorite.
The lyrics that fill folklore also dip into common territory for Swift in the use of imagery that places the listeners into her narratives. While past albums have set her audience in high school hallways and cafes, folklore takes a more mature approach. Fans can find themselves landing at Guadalcanal and “walking the bluffs of a land that isn’t his own,” as Swift said in a recent post.
In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down. folklore is out now. 📷: Beth Garrabrant
The now 30-year-old has evolved alongside her music making this album all the more awestruck and deep. On a more surface level approach, this maturity can be seen through her various F-bombs, which gives Swifties something they’ve never heard before.
Swift’s capability to continuously outdo herself is enough to label this a shining star among the rest. But what also has me hooked on folklore is Swift’s reflection of our current times.
The mysticism and simplicity in Swift’s latest album no doubt stemmed from her four months in quarantine. Having written and recorded folklore in isolation is proof enough. But more so, these past months have allowed us to focus on what is of true value. It’s not luxury and opulence, but it’s the little things like thinking someone could have been the one, dancing in your Levi's, crossing your heart and meeting behind the mall. Swift’s capability to emphasize that effortless warmth within folklore makes it music for the times.
One would leave the in-depth analysis there, but this is Swift we are talking about. As Swift said herself, “A tale that becomes folklore is one that is passed down and whispered around … The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible.” What will future generations say about 2020? What will be discerned as truth and falsity? We may not know the answers, but folklore reminds us about the comfort that comes through the stillness found in each of our nows. And if Swift can get that message across through a spontaneous album drop, then I call this an artistic triumph.