On Nov. 22, Taylor Swift tweeted an unassuming black-and-white photo of herself with the caption “not a lot going on at the moment.” Her fans should have known better than to believe her.
On. Dec. 11, less than six months after the surprise drop of her eighth studio album, “folklore,” at the end of July, she once again surprised fans by releasing “evermore,” its sister record. And once again, The Observer’s Swifties listened at the stroke of midnight on the release date, have had it in their Spotify rotations ever since and have (ever)more thoughts to share.
Lara Foley, Layout Editor
The best songs on “evermore” are the more mellow, seemingly effortless ones, their meditative melodies giving room for her darker lyrics to take shape.
The same week The Rolling Stone and the LA Times named “folklore” the best album of the year, Taylor Swift sent the world into a frenzy once again by releasing “evermore.” I’m in elated disbelief that she was able to pull off 15 more beautifully heart-wrenching songs so soon to add to our “sad girl” playlists.
The creative aspects of Swift’s lyrics and uses of various musical styles instantly impressed me upon my first listen. The LA Times alluded to Swift taking notes from Phoebe Bridgers and Lana Del Rey, who both create lyrically detailed and melodic ballads. For her last five albums, including “evermore,” Swift has worked with producer Jack Antonoff, who also produced Del Rey’s “Norman F—ing Rockwell!” in 2019.
A common trend among Swift, Bridgers and Del Rey’s musical repertoire is their themes of mental health and the recovery process after a tumultuous relationship. Even if you can’t relate to having your heart broken, this year has probably broken your heart in some way, and that’s why we’re grateful for Swift’s virtuosity for keeping us in good company.
I think the best songs on “evermore” are the more mellow, seemingly effortless ones, their meditative melodies giving room for her darker lyrics to take shape, as with “champagne problems.” On “happiness,” the steady synth beat abruptly shifts at the bridge, reminding me of “seven” from “folklore,” and is emblematic of Swift’s experimental tendencies. When this song comes on, all I want to do is close my eyes and soak in Swift’s low-pitched notes and the remarkable wisdom of her words.
Though Swift does feature a number of musicians on “evermore,” including The National and Bon Iver, I can also totally envision Kacey Musgraves in a duet with Swift on “cowboy like me.” This song is Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy’s” twin sister; I know that doesn’t sound profound since they’re both about cowboys, but they both tell stories of cowboys who have a few tricks up their sleeve and that there’s no point in tying them down when they want to leave. I love Swift’s elegy here to her somber country-girl, “Tim McGraw” (2006) days, with the harmonica, mandolin and Marcus Mumford on backup vocals.
“no body, no crime” featuring HAIM and “gold rush” are by no means bad songs; in fact, they are extremely catchy. These two stick out to me as more upbeat and radio-friendly than the rest of the album, with Swift’s classic themes of jealousy and revenge. Yet what they do maintain is the air of feminine power and gracious self-love that is consistent throughout “evermore.”
Favorites: “happiness,” “cowboy like me”
Cryfest: “champagne problems,” “coney island (feat. The National),” “evermore (feat. Bon Iver)”
Least Favorites: “no body, no crime (feat. HAIM),” “gold rush”
Gillian Russo, Online Editor
Perhaps it’s because I now know what to expect from a folksy Swift, but “folklore” just packs more of an emotional and musical punch.
If “folklore” is a secluded cottage in the woods, “evermore” is a quaint beach house in a historic shore town. Listening to this album feels like being in idyllic waterfront suburbia, but I’ve been plunged beneath the postcard-perfect facade and can hear the secrets hidden within the residents’ ivy-dressed walls.
This extremely specific image came to mind mainly because of the lyrics to “coney island,” the most memorable song on my first listen. As Swift does best, she combines vivid scene-setting, in this case of a whimsical boardwalk, with a vulnerable story about failing to put enough effort into a relationship: “We were like the mall before the internet / It was the one place to be / The mischief, the gift-wrapped suburban dreams / Sorry for not winning you an arcade ring.”
But the theme goes beyond that one song. The dreamy “gold rush” sees Swift fantasizing about a relationship with a beautiful stranger: “the coastal town we wandered ’round had nеver seen a love as pure as it.” (It’s like a sober, stripped-down “Gorgeous,” but I digress.) She sings, “Good thing my daddy made me get a boating license when I was fifteen” in the twangy “no body, no crime,” suggesting that the murder of an unfaithful lover — or rather, the cover-up — is happening somewhere by the water.
Though I hope you’re now visualizing this sordid little beach town as vividly as I am, I’ve honestly been stalling on my other main takeaway from “evermore”: For all its strong lyric imagery, and though I thoroughly enjoy it, it’s weaker than “folklore.” There, I said it. Perhaps it’s because I now know what to expect from a folksy Swift, but “folklore” just packs more of an emotional and musical punch.
That said, “willow” is a strong earworm of an opener. “champagne problems” grows on me more with each listen. The simultaneous earnestness and resignation of “tolerate it” may make it the album’s best song, but “closure” contains the album’s funkiest beat and best line: “Don’t treat me like some situation that needs to be handled / I’m fine with my spite and my tears and my beers and my candles.” I can raise a champagne flute to that.
Favorites: “tolerate it,” “willow,” “coney island (feat. The National),” “closure”
Swift spins a series of stirring and somber reflections on lost loves and how they look under the microscope of the passage of time.
As I’m guessing is the case for many of us, I’ve been listening to this album on repeat while working on final papers. Now that I’ve got a chance to get my thoughts together, I can say that I love it increasingly with every listen. I’ve been trying to determine my all-time favorite Swift song, but her two newest albums are making that task even more difficult than it already was.
One of the most captivating things about “evermore” is the way Swift spins a series of stirring and somber reflections on lost loves and how they look under the microscope of the passage of time. She captures the multiple and varied shades of hindsight, from the heartbreaking reminiscence of “champagne problems” to the sober appreciation of “happiness” to the bitterness of “closure.” While listeners are caught up in the piercing melodies and expertly crafted metaphors, the album also reminds us that even though “the road not taken looks real good now,” at the end of the day and “long story short,” we’ll survive.
It’s difficult to pick favorites because each song hasthat line (or several) that pack a punch every time. As I approach graduation next semester, the line “soon they’ll have the nerve to deck the halls that we once walked through” really got to me, and “unmoored” is the perfect word for this month and its ghosts of memories past. Swift does not leave us without glimmers of hope, though, accompanied by a tentative sense that everything does happen for a reason.
Goddamn, Taylor, a generation’s pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand.
Favorites: “champagne problems,” “‘tis the damn season,” “ivy”
Honorable Mentions: “willow,” “coney island (feat. The National)”
Least Favorites: “cowboy like me”
Marielle Sarmiento, Managing Editor
“folklore” is a nostalgic, young summer and “evermore” is its matured, wintry older sister.
I wish I was 30 years old so I could truly understand and internalize the story Swift is trying to tell us. “evermore” brings us Swift’s most mature, self-reflective songwriting yet.
On Twitter, she described “evermore” as going deeper into the “forest of this music” that produced “folklore.” To me, this album felt like a deeper look into Swift herself. While all her albums are extremely personal, “evermore” is a seemingly tragic intimate look into what Swift’s diaries or therapy sessions might sound like.
I still have whiplash from the “Lover”- to “folklore”-era transition, so I can’t be foolish enough to think I’ve had enough time to process July’s “folklore.” Giving us over 30 new songs to process within less than five months is almost unfair, and I know my opinions on these tracks will change after every listening session.
It’s so hard to rank Swift’s albums with their starkly different eras, but as the sister album of “folklore,” I can’t help but compare. “folklore” was crowned the queen of autumn vibes during its initial release, but next to its sister, it’s clear to me that “folklore” is a nostalgic, young summer and “evermore” is its matured, wintry older sister.
The first 15 minutes of “evermore” are pure perfection — from the witchy vibes of “willow,” the witty, heartbreaking lyrics of “champagne problems,” the “1989”-esque beat of “gold rush,” and the signature catchy chorus of “’tis the damn season.” Her lyrics “how evergreen our group of friends, / don’t think we’ll say those words again” will stick with me as graduation creeps closer.
The slower and sadder songs like “happiness” and “coney island (feat. The National)” (like “hoax” and “peace” from the sister album) aren’t my jam, but I can still appreciate them for their raw lyrics.
I didn’t think any collaboration could match Bon Iver’s feature on “exile,” but HAIM on the dark murder mystery “no body, no crime” made me grin the whole time I listened to it.
As Swift sang, “I can’t face reinvention, I haven’t met the new me yet” — I wouldn’t mind if we stayed in these dark woods for a third album to complete this trio.
Favorites: “champagne problems,” “’tis the damn season,” “willow,” “gold rush”
Honorable mentions: “no body, no crime (feat. HAIM),” “ivy”
Least favorites: “evermore (feat. Bon Iver),” “cowboy like me”
Grace Getman, Social Media and Newsletter Editor
“evermore” shows Swift, a cultural chameleon and a singularity into herself, evolve once more.
Honestly, I wasn’t excited when I heard that “evermore” was going to be dropping. Coming down from the crest of “folklore,” I felt like “evermore” was going to be too much, too soon.
And that was absolutely true. I wasn’t ready for “evermore,” and I doubt Swift was either. By settling into a long-term relationship with Joe Alwyn and making peace in her well-documented feuds, Swift approached a cliff’s edge in 2020, even before the pandemic shell-shocked our lives. What does a singer who’s built her career on telling fairy tales and fighting ogres do when she’s received her happy ending and all her dragons have been slain?
“evermore” continues “folkore’s” satisfying answer, finding Swift delving into her past and creating stories of her own. Songs from “folklore” and “evermore” join a long list of songs from “Mary’s Song (Oh My My)” to “Speak Now” to “The Lucky One” where Swift immerses herself in someone else’s life.
However, in many ways, I’d argue that “evermore” is an improvement over “folklore.” I’d take “willow” as a lead single over “cardigan” any day, and the emotional maturity and cutting lyricism displayed in “ivy” and “evermore” outweigh the more superficial attempts of “august” and “seven.”
But what “evermore” gains most is the ability to have fun. Swift has somber and emotionally wrenching down to an art on “folklore,” but there were no songs to, well, bop out to. “evermore” delivers with songs like “long story short” and “no body, no crime” that hold strong lyrics but are also just fun. Even Swift’s willingness to go with the potential kitschiness of a song like “cowboy like me” is a jump from “folklore.”
While it does have patches of unevenness and I still wish I had more of a breather from “folklore,” “evermore” shows Swift, a cultural chameleon and a singularity into herself, evolve once more.
Esmé Bleecker-Adams, FCLC ’21, is a visual arts major and (oh-so-jaded) New Yorker who is incredibly grateful for her time at The Observer and for all the lovely people she has met there! Favorite hobbies include sewing, playing table tennis and ignoring her alarm clock.
Lara Foley, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’22, currently serves as a layout editor. She studies new media and digital design and loves to doodle. She adores working alongside her fellow layout editors and conquering the labyrinth that is InDesign! She has two cats and a doggo back home in Los Angeles.
Grace Getman, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’22, is a social media editor and newsletter editor for The Observer. Previously, she was an opinions editor along with Evan Vollbrecht. She is a dual urban studies and environmental studies major and has strong thoughts on Taylor Swift’s latest album that she’d love to tell you about. She is slowly but surely learning how to use TikTok.
Gillian “Gil” Russo, FCLC ’21, is one of The Observer’s virtual vanguards — er, online editors. Previously, she worked as the arts & culture editor and one of the inaugural newsletter editors. Gil is a journalism major/theatre minor who had hoped to write just one Broadway show review before she graduates, but now her main goal is to do at least one thing for all 15 divisions of The Observer by then (she’s up to 13). Other fun facts include that she enjoys dancing and sword-fighting, she can say the alphabet backwards, and she modeled for a French chair catalog one time. gillianrusso.com
Marielle Sarmiento, FCLC ’21, is the managing editor of The Observer. On staff since her freshman year, she has previously held the positions of arts & culture editor and features editor. She studies new media and digital design with a concentration in commerce and marketing. Her favorite article that she has written is "Making a Musical: 'The Shakespeare Company.'"