Humility, down-to-earth, realness, these words perfectly sum up Taylor Swift’s surprise record folklore.
This is the eighth studio album from the singer, songwriter, musician and American superstar, which comes just 11 months after the release of Lover. While that record is her least successful in terms of sales and chart-toppers, I believe it to be her best work to date. The songwriting was on-par with her earliest releases and the songs felt like they were completely in Swift’s control. Soft, melodic, easy on the ear and vocally stunning. Lover felt as though Swift had matured and returned to these elements.
Aside from the absolutely horrendous and disgusting tunes “ME!” and “You Need To Calm Down”, there is something about the rest of the tracklist that gives Swift some realism and makes her feel like one of us instead of this pop icon.
I have to admire her for making this a surprise drop. This era for her feels like she is making the music she’s been wanting to make all along. I think Republic is giving her more creative freedom instead of encouraging her to release mainstream pop garbage with compressed to hell instrumentals and some of the most radio-friendly sounds out there.
I mean look at all the trash that came out with Big Machine: the entire Reputation album, “Bad Blood, “Shake It Off”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”……YIKES.
Now, we finally get the artist instead of the money machine, and my oh my is it a great listen.
folklore lives up to the name as this album mostly describes anecdotes of past experiences, learning lessons, and reminiscence on childhood. There also some fairy tale-esque storytelling on the track “mad woman”, which discusses a widow getting revenge on the town who made this woman an outcast. While not my favorite track, you can’t not praise the writing.
The album kicks off on a high note with “the 1”. Lovely piano-driven track and a gorgeous track that discusses some nostalgic myths she believed when she was young.
We have the tearjerker in “exile”, which feature vocals from Bon Iver. He sounds gritty and rough, which is a contrast to Swift’s soft and gentle singing. The song sees these two singing in the point of view of a recently broken-up couple who see each other for the first time since they parted ways.
“seven” gives us more lovely guitar work as Swift reminisces on a friend from childhood who had this rough family life and she tries bringing her friend over to a house to get her away from her troubled household.
The album then hits its crescendo with “august”. Easily the most appealing to Swift fans from the bad years. It’s pop-friendly, but still beautiful enough in thanks to Swift’s vocals.
“illicit affairs” is the song I most appreciate off this record because we get Swift at her most vulnerable as she seems to open up about a real-life affair and how she was hiding it from everyone she knew. However, every time she got together with this person, she would hurt herself mentally more and more because she knows it’s not a good thing to do.
The track “invisible string” is the most country-esque on the album. A real throwback to teenage Swift when she first exploded onto the scene in the late 2000s. It nearly sounds like a track from The Chicks discography.
The final song I’ll shout out is “betty”. Very nostalgic sounds that make it feel like we are listening to a coming-of-age film.
With an over hour-long record, there are going to be some duds and we get that with “Cardigan”, the incredibly forgettable “mirrorball” and my least favorite track “epiphany”, which is essentially a shoutout to people on the front lines battling COVID-19. While nice in sentiment, the track comes off very corny and uninspired.
With that being said, this is Swift’s most complete record. While I do enjoy tracks of Lover more, this is a refreshing sight to see her make music that is in her element. She was really feeling herself throughout the record and it shows with how well-crafted it is.
Richest Tracks: “the 1”, “exile”, “seven”, “august”, “illicit affairs”, “invisible string”, “betty”
Worst Track: “epiphany”
LISTEN TO THE ALBUM
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/folklore/1524793738