Taylor Swift’s second surprise release album in 2020, ‘evermore,’ review

Taylor Swift’s second surprise release album in 2020, ‘evermore,’ review

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

On Dec. 11, Taylor Swift released her second surprise album in 2020 “evermore,” following her release of “folklore” on July 24, Swift’s first surprise album. When Swift released both of her surprise albums she gave fans less than a 12 hour notice until the album dropped, along with the music video to her first single for each album. 

With “evermore,” the single, “willow,” music video picked up where “folklore”’s single “cardigan”’s music video ended. When Swift released “folklore,” she explained she never planned this album prior to the pandemic, but being at home allowed a multitude of fictional stories and characters to be imagined and created in her mind. Swift then went on to do what she does best and turned those stories and characters into songs. 

Swift released a statement with the announcement of “evermore,” that this new album would be a “sister album” to “folklore,” which she has never done before. However, she went on to explain, “To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in.”

In total “evermore” has 15 tracks and two deluxe tracks. The first track also being the first single “willow.” “willow” makes a wonderful first single with its more pop style that would do well on radio charts and it represents the feel and style of the whole album. “willow” tells the story of an unplanned lover coming into your life and changing your life then leaving as quickly as they came. With lyrics like, “I’m like the water when your ship rolled in that night, rough on the surface, but you cut through like a knife” and “life was a willow and it bent right to your wind, head on the pillow, I could feel you sneakin’ in,” Swift uses analogies to show how easy it was for the lover to enter your life.

The second track is “champagne problems,” which tells the story of a girl who rejects her boyfriend’s proposal then blaming herself and a multitude of problems in their life as “champagne problems.” With the beautiful, sad piano notes playing in the background, the lyrics tell the story from the girl’s point of view of how her boyfriend felt about being rejected. “You had a speech; you’re speechless. Love slipped beyond your reaches, and I couldn’t give a reason. Champagne problems.” The song goes on to end with the girl heartbreakingly admitting that one day he’ll find a girl who will say yes and won’t have her “champagne problems.” “But you’ll find the real thing instead. She’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred… You won’t remember all my champagne problems.”

The third track is “gold rush,” which tells the story of having a crush and imagining a wonderful life with them that “will never be” because of reasons up to speculation from listeners. “gold rush” has a pop beat to it and catchy lyrics that make it a good contender as a future single. 

The fourth track is “tis’ the damn season.” If you haven’t listened to Swift since her “1989” days, you might be surprised to hear a song with a cuss word in the name. However, Swift drops the f bomb in one song from “folklore” and “champagne problems” of this album, so it’s not as shocking for more current fans. “tis’ the damn season” is about a person being home for the holidays and wanting to meet up with a past ex whilst wondering if they should’ve stayed with their ex instead of following their dreams and moving to L. A.

The fifth track is “tolerate it,” which tells the story of a toxic relationship where the lover doesn’t care or appreciate the love and work the storyteller puts in the relationship. Instead, the lover’s reaction is to “tolerate it.” If you are a fan of the late Princess Diana, I’ve heard of many opinions that this song represents her relationship and marriage to Prince Charles. I have to say it does represent their relationship pretty well, but I don’t think it was Swift’s inspiration for the song.

The sixth track is one of my personal favorites, “no body, no crime,” which is a story about infidelity and murder. The inner true crime and crime show lover in me adored this song from first listen. The song is also one of three songs with a featured artist, this song being featured by HAIM.

The seventh track on “evermore” is “happiness.” Happiness tells a story about the emotional turmoil of being in the middle of or after a divorce. It talks about betrayal of a once true love seemingly becoming the bad guy, yet you know they aren’t actually a bad person, you’re just hurt with the lyrics, “I can’t make it go away by making you a villain. I guess it’s the price I paid for seven years in Heaven… No one teaches you what to do. When a good man hurts you, and you know you hurt him too.” The song mostly relates to the hopefulness of both divorcees being able to heal and grow into new people in the aftermath of the divorce with the lyrics, “All you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness. You haven’t met the new me yet, and I think she’ll give you that.”

The eighth track on the album is “dorothea.” “dorothea” tells the story of an old friend wondering if their friend from their childhood still remembers them and is the same even though now they’re a celebrity. There are some fan theories that Dorothea is actually the point of view of “tis’ the damn season,” and her ex-lover is the one singing the song. Listening to both songs there are undoubtedly several similarities between the two. However, other fans are convinced “dorothea” is actually about Swift’s long-time friend Selena Gomez.

The ninth track is “coney island,” and is another one of my favorites from the album. “coney island” is the second song with a featured artist on the album with The National. Personally I see the duet between Swift and The National as two lovers with Swift’s character still being alive and grieving their lover and The National being the dead lover. Others have seen it as a sad breakup duet, which just proves how versatile all the songs a part of “evermore” and “folklore” is up for interpretation since they are about fictional people and narratives created by Swift.

The tenth track is “ivy,” which is about a wife falling for a man who isn’t her husband. Based on the lyrics it seems as if the wife never planned on falling in love with someone else, but circumstances allowed it to happen. With the lyrics, “My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand. Taking mine, but it’s been promised to another” and “I can’t stop you putting roots in my dreamland,” show that the wife seemed to suddenly and quickly fall for this other man.

The eleventh track is “cowboy like me,” which tells the story of two scammers meeting and starting a relationship with one another whilst still scamming “rich folks” for their money. “cowboy like me” is one of the more complicated songs to understand from the album. It took me multiple listens to really understand the storyline and meaning to the song.

Following “cowboy like me,” is another one of my favorites from the album “long story short.” “long story short” is one of the few songs from “evermore” and “folklore” that seem to actually be about Swift’s life. In the song, it gives the “long story short” version of what happened back in 2016 with the drama with Kanye West. With the lyrics, “And I fell from the pedestal, right down the rabbit hole. Long story short, it was a bad time. Pushed from the precipice, clung to the nearest lips. Long story short, it was the wrong guy.” The lyrics then go on to say “now I’m all about you,” which could point to the time in Swift’s life when she started dating actor Joe Alwyn, her boyfriend of four years. To end the song, Swift changed the chorus to include “Pushed from the precipice, climbed right back up the cliff. Long story short, I survived” giving a sense of how it was one of the worst times of her life, yet she still survived.

Track 13 is a more emotional and personal song for me, “marjorie.” The song “marjorie” is about Swift’s late maternal grandmother, and while I’ve been lucky enough to have yet to experience that kind of loss, I’ve still lost someone I miss frequently. Right before my fourteenth birthday and right after my friend Torie’s twelfth birthday, Torie was in a car accident and was the only one of her family members in the vehicle to pass away. This was my first experience with death, and it was someone I never expected it to be. This song hurt me in a multitude of ways especially with the lyrics, “Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt, ’cause every scrap of you would be taken from me.” However, what hurt the most were the lyrics that reminded me of Torie’s mom’s recent admission of her fear that everyone else would forget Torie except for her. I relate to these lyrics the most because it’s something I experience in my day-to-day life: “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were still around. I know better, but I still feel you all around. I know better, but you’re still around.”

The fourteenth track on “evermore,” is “closure.” “closure” is probably the hardest to listen to without understanding the meaning in the music in the background. “closure” is about not needing closure to the end of a bad situation or relationship, but Swift made an interesting choice with the music. Throughout the song, there’s an ingoing and outgoing drum part that seems random and distracting from the song. However, this was possibly a stylistic choice for a number of reasons. Fans have speculated the song is about Swift’s old record label Big Machine Record and previous owner Scott Borchetta, who sold Swift’s music behind her back. The song describes someone reaching out to Swift after “a long time” with a letter asking for forgiveness. Fans believe this letter came from Borchetta. How the abrasive drum track ties to the song’s meaning is that some fans have pointed out the drum track “sounds like a big machine breaking down,” which could symbolize Big Machine Record. There’s also a lyric in the song that could also explain the drum track. “But it’s fake and it’s oh so unnecessary,” with fans pointing out that the drum track also seems “so unnecessary.” When I first listened to the song, I almost couldn’t stand it because of the drum track, but now it has become one of my favorite songs on the album.

The final track on the standard album without the deluxe tracks is “evermore.” It is a beautiful song to end the album featuring Bon Iver. “evermore” tells the story of being in a specific type of pain that you fear “that this pain would be for evermore.” However, the song ends on a more hopeful note with the realization that “this pain wouldn’t be for evermore.”

On the deluxe edition of “evermore,” there are two deluxe tracks “right where you left me” and “it’s time to go.” I think there’s meaning behind these two songs being paired together because it starts off with “right where you left me,” which is about being stuck in time at a certain point of your life, unable to move forward whilst their friends go on with their lives. The lyrics, “Everybody moved on. I, I stayed there, dust collected on my pinned-up hair. They expected me to find somewhere. Some perspective, but I sat and stared, right where you left me” and “Did you ever hear about the girl who got frozen? Time went on for everybody else; she won’t know it. She’s still 23, inside her fantasy. How it was supposed to be” shows how the girl is stuck in time, unmoving. 

Then, with “it’s time to go,” it gives the opposite message. Instead of being stuck it’s about when you know it’s time to go. With the lyrics “That old familiar body ache. The snaps from the same little breaks in your soul. You know when it’s time to go. Sometimes giving up is the strong thing. Sometimes to run is the brave thing. Sometimes walking out is the one thing. That will find you the right thing” show that from some perspectives it might seem cowardly to leave. However, in comparison to “right where you left me” and its story of being unable to ever leave. It’s as if the girl from “right where you left me” finally was able to escape the past and becomes the girl in “it’s time to go.”

Overall, “evermore” is a wonderful album that I highly recommend everyone listens to, and like “folklore,” these two albums are different then Swift’s music in the past. It’s remarkable Swift was able to put together 17 tracks in just under six months from her last album release.

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