When you're a kid and you listen to an album you experience a sort of make-believe about every moment of it because you haven't experienced any of these big grown-up emotions or actual situations. You don't connect with it in the same way you do when you've grown because you just don't know its meanings. I haven't experienced listening to something and feeling that same joyous imagination that you experience in your youth in awhile. That being the reason that Evermore struck me so deeply since the first listen because it brings me into a world I feel I haven't leaped into since I was a kid, or perhaps since Taylor Swift last put out a country album (since they both stopped happening around the same time). On Evermore, Taylor continues her building of a beautiful dream town that she began on Folklore and entering the heads of its residents to pen songs about them. This world has entranced me in a way that I can't escape thinking about so here I am writing a track-by-track review of it.
A dreamy opening track inspired by the beginning of a relationship with someone completely bewitching. Willow is a perfect beginning to another delve into the folkloric woods, Taylor walks us through the thoughts when you're enraptured by someone and they are still a mystery to you “If it was an open shut case I never would've known by the look on your face” and “wherever you stray I follow”. The choice to fall clearly already made by the way he creeps into her dreams, a theme she plays on later in Ivy. The lead single’s accompanying music video fittingly picking up where cardigans music video left us, playing with motifs from her past songs, some recent (seven & invisible string), and some from a time that feels like eons ago, (Love Story & Mean) that she is currently re-recording, assuming from the recent pattern she is into, any day now I will wake up to a flurry of texts saying in 24 hours those albums will be out too.
Champagne Problems is a unique tale about a reflection on a break up from her almost fiancee and having to deal with the gossip surrounding that and their mental illness, and having to watch that person they once loved move on with another girl. This song delivering us one of Taylor's best and most intense bridges.
With lines like “How evergreen our group of friends, don't think we’ll say that word again and soon they'll have the nerve to deck the halls that we once walked through” Effortlessly summarizing how it feels to be excommunicated from a friend group once your relationship causes a deep turmoil within one of its members, and the resentment that comes with all these people you once held so dear turning against you for a hard decision that hurt you too. The title feeling like a constant dismissal of mental health issues because others have it worse. The end of this being Taylor seeing/hoping her former lover will be repaired by someone else's love “She’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred” altogether a heartbreaking sentiment delivered in a Swift fashion.
Taylor’s best love songs feel like romantic daydreams but none as bluntly as Gold Rush. This song reminiscent of territory Taylor has tred before, on Gorgeous although this is a much more refined grown-up look at the situation. Taylor elaborating on why she isn't happy about her new obsession “I don't like that falling feels like flying till the bone crush” and picturing her and her lover in situations that seem so natural “I see me padding across your wooden floors with my eagles’ t-shirt hanging from the door/at dinner parties I call you out on your contrarian shit” before revealing that this is a daydream that slips through her fingers just like the warmth of a mug of tea.
In ’Tis the Damn Season, our protagonist Dorothea has returned home for the holidays and is reminiscent of her high school love and what could've been. The song opening harshly with “If I wanted to know who you were hanging with while I was gone I would've asked you” cutting through the unspoken tension with a knife by making it crystal clear that she does not need any catch-ups, she doesn't want to think about their reality, she just wants to play in the space of youthful love that they used to, and ignore their past blowups and arguments. A feeling of needing to tread down the road of what if’s is a feeling almost constant in these uncertain times and recognizing that doing so “always leads to you and my hometown”, shows how there is nothing like the beautiful devastation of reality. Summarizing what it's like to visit home, and thus how it feels to return to your past, returning to old teenage patterns, and spending time with people that will only leave you hurting when you return to your real day to day. This entire song prompting most people I know to text their exes, so job well-done Taylor.
A track five slot on a Taylor Swift album is one that she reserves for the most heartbreaking of songs, and she does not disappoint with tolerate it. A summary of a crushing reality of giving your all to someone who just barely accepts you. Possibly one of the saddest songs she's ever put out simply for the imagery she portrays of being unwanted by someone that is being given everything from her.
On no body, no crime featuring HAIM, I can't help but wonder how far into her career it will be when Taylor learns that collaborating on a song with women doesn't exclusively entail reducing them to her background singers. Taylor delivers us a country banger about a friend being cheated on and then being murdered and then Taylor seeking revenge for her. A track that had my friends and I asking each other to do the same if we ever stopped appearing at our local favorite restaurant chain after confronting our partners about their infidelity.
Happiness is so ironically named since this is possibly one of the saddest songs in her discography. This song seemingly picks up much later with the same protagonist from seven off of folklore, with a return to reflecting in “the trees”. With this now grown woman doing a post mortem on a relationship with a person she was deeply involved with for a long time. In each verse, Taylor seemingly is telling a different moment of her great pain at points following the separation and then in each chorus, she’s reminding herself that there has been happiness before them and she will be happy again. She reminds us of perhaps one of the hardest parts of moving on, watching someone who used to be yours move on too, and seeing them experience happiness with someone else. Taylor reflecting that all this person wants is forgiveness (perhaps closure) and this situation has caused her once again to metamorphosize into a new version of herself, and she thinks this new Taylor will give them forgiveness, once they meet again. There is such a haunting relatability in this somber and hopeful song that will surely inspire a lot of dramatic looks out windows on transit.
Dorothea is a return to Taylor's favorite themes to riff on recently, high school sweethearts and their unfortunate separations and of course, reflecting on what could be. On Evermore, Taylor creates a duo between Dorothea and an unnamed person whos the paramour in Tis The Damn Season. On ’Tis The Damn Season, Taylor is hoping a couple can get together and ignore the tumultuous way it all ended. In Dorothea, we find that not only has the other partner not only been hoping for the same, but they also haven't even been reflecting on the “ache in you, put there by the ache in me”. They are filled with daydreams about what she could be doing, and dreams of her coming back to them, telling her “it’s never too late to come back to my side”. Seemingly just as in love with her as the day she left their little town. A beautifully tragic sentiment that I love dreaming into every time I hear apart of either song in this duo.
Coney Island is a song where Taylor recalls pieces of her past relationships and says perhaps things she wishes they had said to her, and more intriguing, things she may have wished to say to them upon reflection, and has Matt Berninger deliver those lines alongside with her. the production on this song I found lackluster to the point where I listen to this song for the sole reason of hearing the line “We were like the mall before the internet, it was the one place to be” a sentiment I can't help but being hung up on as perhaps a part of the last generation of kids that used the mall as a teenage watering hole. A reality that is unimaginable in these times for a million different reasons.
In Taylor's oddest album of course we would get perhaps her most romantic lines within a song about a housewife cheating. Ivy is a song where she is shocked by the love she's falling into with someone while “promised to another”. Explaining that the situation is not her fault because “I can't stop you putting roots in my dreamland” and teasing that this person started it, as if who started it even matters at this point.
Swift makes a triumphant return to country love songs in the form of cowboy like me. Now more mature as a woman in her thirties Taylors take on love is less, you belong with me, and more, how lovely that we are so similar, neither of us thought we’d end up together but we just couldn't help falling for each other. Telling her lover that “now you hang from my lips like the garden of Babylon”. That now that they fell into each other in a way neither expected, they won't be ever able to love anyone else. Encapsulated by the little things like “with your boots beneath my bed” this return to form in a mature elegant fashion has me begging for another country album from a woman who is sure to deliver one again someday soon.
long story short gives us an upbeat look at a conversation where one has to encapsulate every bad moment they've been through, explaining it all in a brief vague way because none of that matters now that she’s found her person, now that shes survived all of it.
Taylor delivers a beautiful tribute to her grandmother in Marjorie. The concept of someone not really being gone as long as they are spoken or thought of is a beautiful one and one that will ring true forever now.
Closure delivers us a song with production reminiscent of a Charli XCX track, which is a welcomed newness. This song reminded me of a sentiment from Bojack Horseman where he says “Closure is a made-up thing by Steven Spielberg to sell movie tickets” since on this track, Taylor delivers us an angry bitter pill of getting a letter from someone about a situation that has been long past. A situation that she has already grieved and decided her feelings on. Knowing that the other person may be only saying all of this because they have just realized the situation was handled improperly and are deciding to reach out far past an appropriate time to smooth it over. Taylor saying in the bridge that “I know I’m just a wrinkle in your new life staying friends would iron it out so nice” with the twinge of sarcasm in her voice, both parties aware that they will never be friends again, this effort all being to smooth out the other parties conscience. An effort that Taylor has no interest in due to the harsh way the betrayal occurred. She is fine with her spite, and amen to that.
On the closing track of this album, Taylor gives us a sequel to the best collaboration of her career with Bon Iver. The vocals on this track tango in a beautiful winter moonlight that is just phenomenal, recreating the same magic of exile from folklore. A heartbreaking look back at having been through the worst place in your life and realizing that nothing lasts forever, even if it feels like it will at the moment.
This album is a beautiful creative endeavor of a maturing artist coming home to a form that suits her best. The ninth album from this household name not only being her most interesting work so far but also a refreshing reprieve to escape into at the end of this hellish year. Folklore was released just five months ago and that album is seemingly more welcoming to its listener, more biographical. Evermore is an album that is not as relatable in the way that is so much more fictitious, but that's what makes it more intriguing and enjoyable to delve into. As 2020 draws to a close I am grateful for all the amazing music this year, but especially Evermore, my favorite Taylor album (a sentiment I do not decide lightly). Evermore makes me excited to hear Taylors next project and selfishly makes me want to only listen to Evermore, forevermore.