Taylor Swift broke the internet with the announcement of her surprise eighth studio album ‘Folklore’, and in three short days it has already sold over a million physical copies, broken streaming records and became the highest selling album of the year. Also on top of that, literally no one saw this album coming, and it was the biggest surprise drop since Beyonce’s self titled record in 2013. HUGE!
From start to finish, ‘folklore’ is Taylor Swift’s most cohesive body of work to date. Without the confusion of pop gimmicks, this album relies solely on her vulnerable songwriting and incredible musicianship. Produced by Aaron Dessner from The National and regular collaborator Jack Antonoff, they help transport listeners into Swift’s mind as her storytelling runs rampant with these vivid anecdotes that stem from real life and imagination.
There is a common theme of heartbreak that runs in the veins of this record and the hauntingly beautiful production that accompanies it sounds like it’s taken straight from the soundtrack of an accompanying film. With strong piano, guitar and folk-pop elements intertwining with orchestral arrangements, this moody collection of songs will immediately captivate you.
Opening with ‘the 1’, she immediately sets the tone for the album with a classic Swift piano and guitar ballad. Within the vivid imagery behind the song you can imagine rain falling against the window as she ponders on the “what if’s” at the end of a relationship. “But it would’ve been fun, if you would’ve been the one” she sings.
‘Cardigan’ then draws you into the magic of love and how someone can make you feel so warm and special. “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favourite” she sings during the moody and cinematic chorus. This song could’ve been easily transported into a heavier pop realm but she held it back and kept it in this mysterious folk inspired world, and it was so perfect.
A lot of this album takes that sonical routing with ‘the last great american dynasty’, ‘my tears ricochet’, ‘illicit affairs’, ‘august’ and ‘mirrorball’ sparkling extra bright within this new sound. And she even gave a cheeky little return to her early country material on ‘betty’ which has instantly become a fan favourite. But it’s ‘seven’, ‘this is me trying’ and ‘exile’ featuring Bon Iver which completely tore my heart in two.
The Bon Iver collaboration was one that no one saw coming but they were truly a match made in heaven. The way their two vocals contrast together gives the song a unique light and shade and enhances the emotional heartstrings of the song. “I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending. You’re not my homeland anymore. So what am I defending now?” they sing during the chorus.
Finding yourself immersed into the heart of the album, you’ll walk away only wanting to go back. I found myself in a dreamlike state from the moment I pressed play with these reflective emotions surfacing from my own life while Swift narrated my walk down memory lane. Everyone will have a different experience listening to this record, and that’s the genuinely exciting part of it.
‘folklore’ is Taylor Swift’s most cohesive record to date, and it’s also her most different sonically. Breathing in a new found maturity, these tracks stand on their own as incredible works of art without needing to use her name to sell them to people.