Hearing Double: Taylor Swift drops second surprise album of 2020 with “folklore” sister album “evermore”

While nothing new, Swift’s latest release is a deeper dive into the artist’s mind.

by Kirstie Burgess, Staff Writer

In the early morning hours of Dec. 10, Taylor Swift hinted that something was coming by posting nine photos on Instagram to create one whole image. What did the image create? The cover for another surprise album, dropping that night, titled “evermore.”

This is her ninth studio album and her second release of the year. In July, Swift dropped “folklore” out of nowhere. “Evermore” is “folklore’s” sister album. 

“Evermore” is 15 tracks and has an hour-long run time. However, there are two exclusive songs that are only available if you have a physical copy of the album. On “folklore” there was one bonus track exclusive to the physical copies. The track was later released in a deluxe version of the album on streaming platforms. 

How Swift had time to create another full-length album is beyond me. This year Swift wrote “folklore” and created a documentary about the album, is currently re-recording her previous albums and now released another studio album.

In a letter to fans, Swift said that they couldn’t stop writing songs. 

“In the past, I’ve always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released,” Swift wrote. “There was something different with folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning.”

Swift, who turned 31 on Dec. 13, gave this album to her fans for her birthday.

“Ever since I was 13, I’ve been excited about turning 31 because it’s my lucky number backwards, which is why I wanted to surprise you with this now,” the end of the letter said. “You’ve all been so caring, supportive and thoughtful on my birthdays and so this time I thought I would give you something! I also know this holiday season will be a lonely one for most of us and if there are any of you out there who turn to music to cope with missing loved ones the way I do, this is for you.”

The intro to the second track, “champagne problems” has the same melody as “New Year’s Day” off her sixth album “Reputation” except on “evermore,” it is faster and a little more upbeat.  This song tells the story about a rejected marriage proposal as confirmed by Swift but it is written so beautifully. Swift’s storytelling really shines on this one. 

When listening to the third track  “gold rush,” the intro stood out immediately to me. This song shares sonic similarities to any typical party track from Swift, almost sounding like most tracks in her fifth album, “1989.”  This track, by far, has the best instrumentals. The intro uses string instruments in the intro, followed by a consistent drumbeat, piano, a synth type of sound and backup vocals sprinkled throughout. All these sounds are mixed flawlessly.

“Tolerate it,” “happiness” and “marjorie” are the saddest songs on the album. However, all of the tracks strike an emotional chord in their own way. They aren’t all break-up playlist essentials nor are they all empty sadness. Do be warned though, tears will fall. 

“No body, no crime,” the sixth track featuring the band HAIM, knocks it out of the park. The track is a testament to Swift’s love of true crime stories and opens with sirens and a sultry “he did it.” This song is 80% country and 20% pop and is a welcome return to Swift’s country roots, but let’s forget about the song for a second. Condensing a whole crime story into three minutes and 36 seconds is a talent in itself, but the best part of the song is the last word. 

“I wasn’t letting up until the day he died,” Swift whispers at the end of the track.

The eleventh track on the album, “cowboy like me,” is *Chefs kiss*. That’s the best way I can describe it. Compared to the other songs on the album, “cowboy like me” does not feature a prominent instrumental intro and the majority of the song does not repeat which makes the track stand out. This song, unlike the rest, shines through in the subtle details and it’s easy to get lost in the music. 

The last track on the album, “Evermore,” featuring Bon Iver, was definitely the right pick to close out the album. Accompanied by a slow, melancholy piano melody throughout, the second bridge of the song is where listeners hear the brilliance of the track. The two artists dueling vocals create an ethereal mashup and meld so well together. 

Final Thoughts

The album definitely fits the “cottagecore” vibe Swift was going for. I feel like I should be listening to this in a grassy meadow with the warmth of the sun on me.

“Evermore” showcases what happens when creativity is allowed to flourish. 

One of the major strengths of this album is how the instrumentals interact with the lyrics. On many of the songs, the instrumentals match the cadence of Swift and other artists’ vocals. 

When I wrote the review for “folklore,” I said it wasn’t her all-time best album but now it is tied for the number one spot of her greatest album with “Speak Now.” Because of this, I am hesitant to say anything like that again but I don’t think “evermore” is top three worthy (based on first listen).

Although there are many stand out songs “no body, no crime,” “coney island,” “ivy” and “cowboy like me,” just to name a few, the album overall isn’t new. Beautiful and melodic, but not new. 

One of the reasons, “folklore,” is so fantastic is because it was so different. She has never done anything like that. Not a surprise album, not an album made up of almost entirely piano songs, not a majority slow song album, not a cuss word.

Granted when I woke up on Dec. 10 and found out Swift was dropping another surprise album, I was ecstatic. This album is not by any means a disappointment. It’s really good, it’s just not out of this world fantastic. Despite this, the album feels like a giant hug. 

Swift really seems to be finding herself and her sound through these new releases. Luckily for her, it is working out for the best. In an unconventional year, she finds a way to be different while also exploring parts of who she is as an artist. “Evermore” is truly an introspective sonic journey through Swift’s mind.

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