Taylor Swift shows off her songwriting prowess in her 9th studio album - 2nd album in five months!
Taylor Swift, the reigning Queen of Pop and the Queen of Quarantine! If it wasn’t enough to write and record one 17 track album during lockdown, less than five months later she’s back with another 17 track record! Evermore is the sister album of Folklore, the album she released as a surprise back in July of this year and now to celebrate her 31st Birthday on Sunday she has surprised us again! 2020 has been so detrimental to the creative industries in a lot of ways but I think Taylor Swift might single handedly be trying to save the music industry with her creativity. How someone as prolific and popular as Taylor Swift manages to keep these things so tightly under wraps, I’ll never know. But with the fast turnaround and quantity of new songs she’s released this year, has the quality suffered?
The album begins with a stripped back, simple production, the focus of “Willow” and “Champagne Problems” is firmly on Taylor’s vocals and lyrics with some beautiful backing vocals. There is a good reason to shine the spotlight on Taylor’s lyrics, throughout the whole record we hear these descriptive and detailed lines that only someone of Taylor’s calibre could have thought of. Even in the sad overtones of “Tolerate It” we find some of the most beautifully crafted lyrics “Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life.” The line perfectly defines the message in the song, and paints a clear picture of the relationship. Where Folklore introduced us to characters such as Betty and James, we meet “Dorothea” on Evermore and in a similar vein to Betty we see a glimmer of the old Taylor with a nod to her country roots. One of the most powerful tracks on the record is the one Taylor wrote about her Gran “Marjorie” has some lyrics that really tug at the heart strings and the production builds tension.
Swift experiments on this record with rhythm and melody and though the album is far from her catchy Pop hooks, the melodies are really interesting and they still reel you in. “Gold Rush” is an example of this, and Taylor’s use of head voice brings a vulnerability to it. Despite the challenges the pandemic has thrown up, Taylor has still managed to get some of her favourite collaborators involved on the record. She’s written and produced with long time collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner and their indie influence is clear. “No Body, No Crime” which features HAIM, takes a departure from the themes Taylor typically discusses whilst circling back to her Country roots sonically. One of the strangest tracks on the record in my opinion is “Coney Island” a collaboration with The National, everything about the song is perfect, it all just comes together; Their vocals blend so well together, the way the strings build through the production, the vocal effects and again the lyrical content too! “Long Story Short” is really catchy with some fun lyrics that remind us of that video for Cardigan which references Alice in Wonderland “I fell from the pedestal, right down the rabbit hole, long story short, it was a bad time.” The title track, a collaboration between Taylor and Bon Iver who featured on “Exile” from the Folklore album, concludes the standard version of the record. These two work well together and it’s co-written by William Bowery who is said to be Taylor’s lover Joe Alwyn.
Taylor is something of a song machine, it’s rumoured that Taylor wrote “Happiness” just a week before this record’s release! So on to my question, has the quantity resulted in a loss of quality? Simply, no. Taylor has really matured in the past year and so has her music. Her lyrics seem to strengthen with each passing era, whether that era lasts two years or two months. It leaves us wondering just what she’ll get up to next, who knows, to quote Taylor herself “You haven’t met the new me yet!”