Lifestyle Magazine

Taylor Swift, Folklore Album Review

By Phjoshua @thereviewsarein

broke tradition and gave us all less than 24 hours notice that she had an entire new album on the way less than a year after her last release (Lover) was a giant deal. It was a surprise the turned into excitement and anticipation. And then when the clock struck midnight, folklore officially joined the T.Swift discography with a collection of songs unlike her previous work and tapping into a sound that we didn't know she was ever going to explore.

With 16 tracks (plus a bonus, the lakes, on physical copies of the LP), Taylor Swift goes to a less poppy, more indie-rocky place with Aaron Dessner () walking side-by-side with her as the album's producer and co-writer on 11 of the songs. The cynical among music fans and industry members might say that she's reaching for some sort of cred with the partnership, but not me. What I hear is a new twist on the songwriting that Swift has been showcasing for more than a decade.

At midnight when folklore dropped, the official video for cardigan (written with Dessner) was also released. Hit play for the Taylor Swift directed and starring clip.

It's also interesting to note that folklore includes five songs ( the 1, the last great american dynasty, mad woman, betty, peace) with explicit language tags on Spotify. I don't mean interesting in that Taylor Swift shouldn't feel free to write lyrics that include swearing or to release songs that have those exclamations in them. But interesting that this is the first time an album of hers has ever picked up one of those tags and isn't just a one-time thing. Do I think it was a conscious decision to go there? I don't know - but knowing that Taylor Swift is calculated and looking at everything at all times, I wouldn't bet against it.

In a Facebook post to go along with the album release, Swift wrote, "In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. I've told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve." That makes as much sense as anything really. She's a writer, so it makes sense that she would write songs during the COVID-19 quarantine. She also explained in different writing that it started with visuals that turned into characters that became stories, and that should make sense to to any daydreamer or creative mind that has spent maybe a little more time than they planned by themselves or in a quiet space.

The resulting songs are story songs. Adventures and narratives that have starts and finishes and then she moves onto the next one.

And if I'm going to write about the storytelling, I'm going to share the lyric video for exile featuring . The track has more male narration than any of us are used to from Swift and gets to a quiet, sad, sullen place that hits hard. It's also a new spin on the breakup songs we know Swift relishes the opportunities write and sing.

We all know that there's a little bit of a chip on Taylor Swift's shoulder. She's talked in the past about needing to prove her critics wrong by writing an entire album by herself. She resolved to create a better album next time after missing out on major award nominations. She fully transitioned from country to pop and did her best to keep her country songwriting quit so it wouldn't distract from the move. And, she has very publicly made it known that her relationship with her former label and its new ownership is very not good and that she intends to win whatever battle they are in. I say all of that because this new sound and vibe and era of Taylor Swift might very well prompt questions about why or what this means for her future or if she did this as a gimmick or what have you.

I certainly can't speak for Taylor Swift or her internal motives, but I think there's a very real chance that what this album represents is a chance for Taylor Swift to show that she is a storytelling songwriter and has those chops without a need for flashy pop production. We've seen it once in a while in her adult pop star life, and when she did it as a teenager it didn't have the life experience or weight behind it - which is why it all feels different and heavier now.

This is the closest to country songwriting that Swift has been on a complete album of her own since she left the genre. And if she never records another country album and instead goes back to a polished pop sound for the rest of her career, folklore should stand as the album we can all look at to show what she is very capable of as a songwriter and performer.

I reached out to my pal Elizabeth Di Filippo (Lifestyle Editor at Yahoo Style Canada) and big Taylor Swift fan to ask her for her thoughts and to pick a song that she loves so far (with less than a day to really dive into the album). Here's what she said...

"My favourite song on the entire album so far is mad woman. I feel like it's haunting, but has such an edge to it that we've never seen from Taylor before. She's done revenge songs before, playfully (Better Than Revenge, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things), but mad woman is far more mature, lyrically and musically. It gave me chills."

Here's mad woman.

Thanks for Elizabeth for sharing her thoughts and pick!

Here's my wrap... folklore is an unexpected surprise album in more ways than one. We didn't get the pomp and circumstance that we're accustomed to with Taylor Swift releases. And we didn't get the pop jams that we've become used to over the last half dozen years. What we got was an exercise in songwriting, storytelling, and stylistic experimentation from the 30-year-old star. As her eighth studio album, folklore will either be the start of a new era in Taylor Swift's career, or it will be an outlier that we'll always look at as her quarantine dreamscape of indie-rock influenced imagination.

Check out the full tracklist, including the bonus track only available on the physical copies, and hit play on the stream of folklore now. Enjoy.

Taylor Swift, folklore Tracklist

Taylor Swift, folklore Album Review

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