Album review: Taylor Swift – evermore

Following up her earlier record this year in the form of the great folklore record, music icon Taylor Swift continued to keep writing music from a cozy, pristine area of Pennsylvania and released a sister album to folklore in evermore.

Once again, Swift surprised the world as she announced this record the day of its release.

Similar to folklore, this album sees Swift stripped of label obligations and her insufferable pop sound to emphasize her pleasant vocals and distinguished songwriting. evermore is similar in sound, but sees Swift take a deep dive into a mindset we’ve never seen before. Still rooted in her constant theme of relationships, this record focuses on marriage and all the fears, questions and anxiety that could come from it.

While she isn’t married to her longtime partner yet, this is essentially Swift’s fantasy about how she’ll be during and after the wedding.

One could view this album as not just a sister record, but a direct sequel to folklore because that album was about telling stories about the past, childhood and eventually finding true love as you got older.

evermore begins with the lead single “Willow.” It’s a track where Swift is head-over-heels for her man. She will literally do anything to get his attention and spend time with him. While it’s a fun track, the hook doesn’t benefit her vocals as she has to soar into this high register, which I think falls flat. It’s giving me prime Monica, but gentrified, vibes. It’s odd.

However, the good immediately comes after in the form of “champagne problems.” This is where Swift’s incredible songwriting comes into play because she opens up about bouts with mental-illness and the song is an emotional gut-punch as she shocks her partner and ends their relationship even though her partner was proposing.

“gold rush” is another introspective track where she is fed up and jealous of all the attention that her crush is getting. The fun part about this song is that on one verse, she’s having daydreams about this person, but the next verse abruptly switches into snapping out of it and realizing all the women who are after him.

Unfortunately, Swift returns to her corny songs in “’tis the damn season.” It’s definitely nowhere anything before Lover, but the vibe doesn’t match anything from the previous record or this one.

“tolerate it” wasn’t a standout track for me sonically, but this is another emotional trip as Swift struggles with why her outpourings of love are not receiving attention. This guy doesn’t show love back, but instead, just tolerates it and allows her to fall into this anxious wreck because now she’s questioning if she’ll even be remembered in his life story. “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky. Now, I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life.”

Then, oh my goodness ladies and gentlemen, we get the best song in Swift’s discography in “no body, no crime.” If anybody watched her Disney+ special (I was forced to by my mother), she has a fascination for true crime stories and podcasts, and she plays out a true-crime scenario in this song. The track sees her return to her country roots with the help of the all-women trio, Haim. Essentially, Swift helps Este Haim cover up the murder of Haim’s cheating husband and she flaunts about how good she is at hiding her tracks. For some reason, I get this odd combination in my head of the verses sounding like Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” and the hook faintly reminding me of Blondie’s cover of “The Tide Is High.” It’s just an incredibly fun track and one of the best songs of 2020.

However, after fun, we go back to being emotionally scarred as Swift tries to move on from a relationship on “happiness.” It’s a nice sentiment as she relays to the listener that it’s OK to recognize that there were happy moments even though you are completely broken by the ending of it. There are going to be times after a breakup where you hope the next partner of your ex suffers like you did, but she knows that this is a selfish thought of hers and that it’s time to look toward the future and know happiness will come again.

The next pair of tracks are pretty forgettable. Swift tries to expand the universe from “betty” with “dorothea”, but the instrumentals and songwriting comes off bland. “coney island” could’ve been a highlight until we get a miscast in vocals from The National’s Matt Berninger. She seems to have this affinity for collaborating with deep, grizzly vocalists like we will see later with Justin Vernon, but it doesn’t work on this song.

“ivy” is a follow-up to folklore’s “illicit affairs” as it’s about infidelity in a marriage. The vocal harmonies on the hook make the track a highlight for me.

Swift completely dives back into her country past on “cowboy like me” where two people fall in love after trying to swindle rich people at a fancy resort. It’s quite the premise, but a solid track nonetheless.

“long story short” is an ode to Swift’s partner as she found him during the re-ignition of the feud with Kanye West in 2016. It’s a fun, bubbly track with these nice eccentric rapid pauses in the hook.

Similar to “epiphany” on folklore, the 13th track on evermore is a tribute to another one of Swift’s grandparents. This time, her grandmother Marjorie Finlay. It’s an endearing song as Swift discusses how she can see her grandmother in everyday life to the point where it’s hard for her to believe that she is gone because she seems to feel so alive to Swift in reality.

My least favorite track on the album comes in the form of “closure.” While it sees Swift move on from her beef with her former record label, the industrial-folk is a total 180 from the rest of the record. She also discovers her inner Drake as she discovers this subtle English accent and over-pronounces every word on the hook. It’s a weird track.

We, then, reach the end of the album with the title track, and when you see “feat. Bon Iver,” you know it’s probably a good time to get the tissues ready. For me, I connected with this song more than any of Swift’s songs in the past because it deals with going through a time period of depression, which were bouts I had during the late summer/early fall months. It just seems like you go down the rabbit hole of sadness and you’ll never get it out of it. You hate all the things that made you happy and it’s a miserable, isolating feeling. Thankfully, like for myself, the end of track sees a path to finding that happiness in your life again and it’s a lovely way to cap the album.

While the tracks on evermore aren’t as instantly sticky as the great tracks on folklore, I find this record to be more consistent in its quality. Once again, Swift just continues to improve, thrive in being an independent artist, and write songs she wasn’t able to in the past.

I really enjoyed the product Swift brought in 2020 and I’m ready to hand her an award for Artist of the Year. It’s been a rough year, but she’s been one of the few standout, positive aspects of it.

Richest Tracks: “champagne problems”, “gold rush”, “no body, no crime”, “happiness”, “ivy”, “cowboy like me”, “long story short”, “marjorie”, “evermore”

Worst Track: “closure”

Rating: 8/10

Listen to the album

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/2Xoteh7uEpea4TohMxjtaq?si=gbQ0tbqkRHeeYYuuIQhoTw

Apple: https://music.apple.com/us/album/evermore/1544268281

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