Folklore: A Reflective, Tear-Jerking Album

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taylorswift.com

Swift said in an Instagram post that she poured all of her “whims, dreams, fears, and musings” into “Folklore” as isolation allowed her imagination to run wild.

Rachel Singleton, Editor-in-Chief

With its intimate lyrics and mellow sounds, singer and songwriter Taylor Swift’s surprise new album, “Folklore,” quickly became a collection of songs that fans and casual listeners never knew they needed. Swift revealed her eighth studio album on Thursday out of the blue on Instagram, announcing that the isolation-made, 16-song album would be released at 12 a.m. EST. Despite “Folklore” being an unexpected album to both Swift and her fans, it is arguably one of her best albums yet. 

After listening to the first few songs, I already knew that this is the album I would be vibing to during late-night drives and early morning sunrises. It’s the type of album that floods listeners with nostalgia and warmth, making them reflective of experiences they’ve both had and never had. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit nervous going into this album, but it did not disappoint and, in fact, exceeded expectations. 

Part of what makes this album so captivating is that it didn’t need dramatic sounds or heavy production to support its songs. Most of the music consisted of soft piano and guitar along with subtle background beats. Each song is coherent to the other while also standing on its own. All in all, each piece fits together like a puzzle, and the fact that this album was produced during a pandemic is what makes this release even more impressive. 

Although the instrumentals kept me swaying to the beat, the heartfelt, soul-opening lyrics made me love the album 10 times more. Many of the songs reflect on love and loss, and although these types of songs are often touched on by many artists, Swift still managed to pull off a unique take through her creative storytelling of not only her own experiences but others as well.

For example, “Invisible String” details her own relationship experiences and how it’s “pretty to think all along there was some invisible string” tying her lover to her. What made this song unique was her specific usage of different places and events such as Centennial Park and her and her lover’s “three-year trip getting lunch down by the Lakes.” 

In another instance, Swift uses her song “Epiphany” to parallel the experience of her grandfather on the battlefield in Guadalcanal in 1942 to the experiences of healthcare workers on the front line during COVID-19. This song conveys such an overwhelming and powerful message, which many mainstream artists have yet to explore in their music. At the same time, Swift maintained the melodic tone of the song that listeners can also appreciate while considering the message attached. 

All of the songs hit the bar high when it comes to expressing feelings of heartbreak, love and loss. However, no other song in the album tears your heart out as much as “Exile,” which describes a meeting of a couple after a breakup they fought long and hard to avoid. Swift collaborated with American indie band Bon Iver, where she dueted with band member Justin Vernon. Although Vernon’s deep voice contrasted with Swift’s softer voice, it took the song to the next level of power. 

Adding to this, lyrics such as, “I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending,” and, “You’re not my homeland anymore. So what am I defending now? You were my town. Now I’m in exile seein’ you out,” are two fan favorites from the song. Paired with heartfelt piano composition, “Exile” could make even the toughest person ugly cry. 

Through the development of Swift’s music career, she has shifted from a teenage country singer to a fun-loving pop singer. With her latest drop of “Folklore,” she now ventures into the alternative indie and rock territory. Although this album was a different approach to music for Swift, she took the change and ran with it, creating an intimate, yet confident album that she deserves to be proud of.  If “Folklore” sets the standard for what is to come next in her future releases, I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for what she will bring to the table next.