evermore – Taylor Swift Album Review
I'm going to be frank: this album is one of the greatest things to come out of 2020.
It's absolutely unprecedented: Miss Taylor Swift herself drops another surprise album, less than 6 months after releasing her FIRST surprise album.
I loved folklore a lot – in fact, it was my #1 listened to album of 2020 on my Spotify Wrapped – but once evermore came onto the scene, that's since changed.
My hot take, music-review-wise: evermore is a better album than folklore.
Some people may disagree with me, but I will proceed to prove my point below!
(Sidenote: it's been several months since this was released, and I'm still not sick of it. I still put it on while I'm working from home... almost every day)
willow starts us out with a folksy, guitar-driven tune that evokes the mysterious forest in the background of the album cover. It's happy and sweet, being comfortable in her relationship, saying “take my hands, wreck my plans, that's my man.”
champagne problems jumps the gun for the album as a whole – it's not often that the most intensely emotional, brilliantly written song hits you at the second spot on the tracklist. It tells the story of a failed proposal, and the girl getting proposed to not quite knowing why she said “no”. It captures the heart-wrenching details of all the wonderful things that would have happened, if she only had the certainty to say “yes”.
Dom Pérignon, you brought it, no crowd of friends applauded
Your hometown skeptics called it, champagne problems
You had a speech, you're speechless, love slipped beyond your reaches
And I couldn't give a reason, champagne problems
The bridge claims a spot at the very top of my list of Taylor's best bridges, and I can't do it any justice by just writing it here, so please, go hear it for yourself.
gold rush is our first true taste of Jack Antonoff's Midas touch production, with a pulsing, upbeat track that's a dead ringer for Greenlight by Lorde. The chord progression always keeps you on your toes throughout the song, and it's easily the catchiest spot on the album.
'tis the damn season recounts tales of being in her small hometown and reconnecting with old flames. “You can call me 'babe' for the weekend, 'tis the damn season” refers to Christmas being the time where you stay at your parents' house, you see your old friends driving past, and all the memories of past loves resurface.
tolerate it pinpoints a specific, painful progression of emotion like only Taylor can. It could be applied to a number of situations: a lover and their significant other, a parent and child, or a member of an extended family. It's written from the perspective of the forgotten party in the relationship, watching their loved one and feeling a million miles away from them. Even though they do their very best to shower their loved one with love and attention, they get nothing in return – they simply tolerate it. All of their efforts are unrequited, and they are desperate:
While you were out building other worlds, where was I?
Where's that man who'd throw blankets over my barbed wire?
I made you my temple, my mural, my sky
Now I'm begging for footnotes in the story of your life, drawing hearts in the byline
But this heartbreaking story ends in a sudden triumphant swell, with the singer realizing that they can free themselves from this oppressive existence:
You assume I'm fine, but what would you do if I
Break free and leave us in ruins, took this dagger in me and removed it
Gain the weight of you, then lose it
Believe me, I could do it
no body, no crime (feat. HAIM) takes an unexpected left turn into classic country storytelling, and I am all for it. In Carrie Underwood fashion, Taylor and the Haim sisters tell a juicy tale of feminine revenge on a dirty, rotten, cheating husband.
happiness hits that incredible sweet spot of a breakup song: mourning the loss of the past years with this person, but at the same time, picking your head up and trying to know that there are better days ahead.
I can also see it from the perspective of someone who has lost someone who used to be a dear, close friend. It's painful, and really feels like you've lost who you are – “You haven't met the new me yet”. But you know that everything happens for a reason, and life must go on, even with wounds and what seems like wasted years.
There'll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you
Both of these things can be true, there is happiness
Past the blood and bruise, past the curses and cries
Beyond the terror in the nightfall
Haunted by the look in my eyes that would've loved you for a lifetime, leave it all behind
And there is happiness
dorothea is a real hidden gem buried in the middle of this album. It matches the feeling of betty from folklore, a sweet song that sounds like a handwritten letter in a sepia-toned, old movie. The singer is an old friend of Dorothea's, who is still in their hometown after Dorothea packs up and travels to chase her dreams of fame and fortune. It reminisces on times from their childhood together, and closes with a reminder that they'll always be back at home for her:
But it's never too late to come back to my side, the stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo
And if you're ever tired of being known for who you know, you know, you'll always know me, Dorothea
coney island (feat. The National) is a melancholy vignette, and feels like sitting on a lonely bench, watching the New York fog roll in over the cold water. It becomes a conversation between the two parties in the failing relationship, each having their own apologies for what's happened.
ivy is a lighthearted tune that gives me the warm fuzzies, there's no other way to explain it. It paints pictures of star-crossed lovers meeting under cover of moonlight, in ivy-covered cabins and fields of clovers. The fan theories on the Internet maintain that it's really about two women falling for each other and running away with each other, while one is stuck in an arranged marriage with a man whom she doesn't love... and I have to say, I think I agree. Regardless, it's a sweet song, and we'll likely never get a straight answer on the sexuality of this (and many others) Taylor song, so let the theories commence.
cowboy like me tells a comfortable tale of a couple like Taylor and Joe, living their lives in the public eye, surrounded by empty, expensive things, but not minding it all once they have each other.
long story short is another curveball thrown at us as we come to the tail end of the record; it sounds like it was a 1989 reject, and it's a bop. The chorus gets stuck in my head all the time, and it recounts her chaotic past that brought her to where she is now.
And I fell from the pedestal, right down the rabbit hole
Long story short, it was a bad time
Pushed from the precipice, climbed right back up the cliff
Long story short, I survived
Now I'm all about you
marjorie tells a new kind of love story: the one between Taylor and her late grandmother, Marjorie. It imparts many pieces of advice from a wise, old woman, and keeps her memory alive.
Never be so polite you forget your power
Nevеr wield such power, you forget to be polite
And if I didn't know better, I'd think you were listening to me now
If I didn't know better, I'd think you were still around
As the song ends, you can hear old vinyl recordings of Marjorie singing in the background, a tribute to her musical roots that inspired Taylor to sing when she was still a child. It's such a heartwarming homage to love and family.
closure is, to be perfectly honest, not my favorite on the album. The musicality and time signature is interesting for some, I'm sure, but it personally doesn't gel for me. The lyrics, however, are about one of my favorite topics for Taylor to write about: her character development! Moving on from past hurts and growing into a more healthy mindset has been a theme in her writing ever since the Lover era, and it always really speaks to me in a positive way.
Yes, I got your letter, yes, I'm doing better
It cut deep to know ya, right to the bone
Yes, I got your letter, yes, I'm doing better
I know that it's over, I don't need your closure
evermore (feat. Bon Iver) closes out this record with the title track. The first half of the song dwells on past mistakes and present pain that seems like it will never end. Then, Justin Vernon brings a new, more desperate section, trading off with Taylor singing, culminating in the realization that “you were there”. While she was drowning in pain, she did finally make it to the safe refuge of her lover.
And I was catching my breath
Floors of a cabin creaking under my step
And I couldn't be sure
I had a feeling so peculiar
This pain wouldn't be for evermore
Long story short, I think that some of Taylor's very best work is in the writing on this album. I've fallen farther in love with her and her work this past year more than ever, and I really didn't think that was possible. She's grown into a refined songwriter, and I'll always be excited to hear whatever she does next.
Thanks for reading!
Check out my folklore review here!