By: Maggie Devaney
*Please note that song titles are stylized as lowercase on folklore, therefore they are written that way in this review*
Taylor Swift has had a unique career in terms of longevity and success. Her first album was released in 2006, and since then she has become a household name and is well known worldwide. Swift has become notorious for her switch in genre from country to pop with the release of her album Red in 2012. Her subsequent albums, 1989, reputation, and Lover all achieved astonishing commercial success, and produced some of the highest grossing concert tours of all time. Her most recent studio album, folklore, is no different in terms of success. Swift’s eighth record came as a complete surprise to the public, and its existence was revealed not even a day ahead of its release. However, as of October 10, the album has spent seven weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. folklore has stayed within the top ten since its release in late July, and as of early October remains there. I’ve been a big Taylor Swift fan for many years now, and I have to say that I believe this is her superior album. Each song is unique, but they connect together beautifully with compelling storytelling and melodies.
Folklore begins with “the 1,” a soft and light sounding track with some more solemn lyrics to accompany it. It artistically reflects on what love story could have been after it has already ended. With lyrics such as “we were something, don’t you think so?” and “it would’ve been fun if you would’ve been the one,” this track serves as an impressive introduction with lyrics that truly reflect a cohesive story. Similarly, the next two tracks, “cardigan,” a story told from the perspective of someone who has been cheated on in a relationship, and “the last great american dynasty,” a track that tells the tale of Swift’s Watch Hill, Rhode Island house before she bought it, are seemingly unrelated, but are actually interconnected. The melodies flow together, which creates an impressive sense of cohesiveness to the record. The first and only song with a feature, “exile” with Bon Iver, is possibly my favorite— another emotionally distinguished track with harmonies to die for. “my tears ricochet” and “mirrorball” are also dreamy and come from a more personal perspective rather than the storytelling approach of the last songs. Swift grapples with personal insecurity on “mirrorball,” with lyrics such as “I’m still trying everything to get you laughing at me.” This variety was another thing I really enjoyed about this body of work as a whole.
“seven” is another one of my personal favorites from folklore. The melody and lyrics are what can only be described as sweet. I can say the same about “august,” where Swift takes us back to summer weather with a nostalgic track about a summer fling. “this is me trying” goes hand in hand with “mirrorball” in that it tackles the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty, which is another example of the admirable connections between the tracks on this record. This also occurs with “illicit affairs” (which is not as illicit as it sounds) and “august,” which both tell similar stories of short lived romances. I have said this a few times now, but “invisible string” is possibly my number one favorite on folklore. It’s the perfect mix of romantic, lighthearted, and memorable. This is also a more personal track, telling the story of how Swift fell in love with her boyfriend of 4 years, British actor Joe Alwyn.
Swift takes a stand on “mad woman,” specifically one against the double standards of the music industry and how women can only overreact. “betty” is told from the perspective of a male character, James, apologizing to Betty, who he cheated on. “cardigan” is written from the perspective of Betty, connecting the two tracks. “epiphany,” “hoax,” and “peace,” fit under the same umbrella for me, and they are the perfect set of closing tracks. They all bring the album full circle, and bring even more emotion to the table right at the end of this incredible record.
Folklore is so impressive in many ways, including its emotional content, the exploration of a new genre for Swift, and the success it has achieved. Not only is it my favorite Taylor Swift album by far, but it is one of my favorite albums of all time. I’m really excited to see what visuals and potential live shows Swift has in store for this album cycle, and I’m even more excited to see what she has to offer next, because she outdoes herself every time.
Categories: Arts & Reviews