Album Review: Taylor Swift’s evermore

A song-by-song review of Taylor Swift’s second indie-folk album release of 2020

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By Tatum Elliott

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is back with her second rendition of an indie-folk surprise album released December 11, 2020. Staffer Tatum Elliot did a song-by-song review of Taylor Swift’s second indie-folk album.

Tatum Elliott, JagWire editor-in-chief

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is back with her second rendition of an indie-folk surprise album released December 11, 2020. The album is titled evermore, and after listening to it on repeat for over a month, I’ve collected my thoughts and compiled them all here in a song-by-song review. 

willow 

As far as Taylor Swift’s lead singles go, this is by far my favorite. “willow” seems like the perfect track for the general population, without coming across as overly produced and generic. As the opening track of a sister album, it does a great job of crossing the bridge from folklore to evermore as well. If I had to describe willow in one word, I’d call it wholesome. Everything about the song from the gentle guitar to the cutesy lyrics left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. 

champagne problems

“champagne problems” is all about telling a story. Realizing the song is about a rejected proposal left my jaw slack, but the development of that simple premise is what’s really impressive. I particularly like the bridge of the song where Swift examines the fallout of losing someone who was so entwined in your life and trying to rationalize why it couldn’t work. The lyrics, “Sometimes you just don’t know the answer/’Til someone’s on their knees and asks you,” were particularly pungent. 

gold rush

“gold rush” was, and still is, one of my favorite tracks from evermore. The song opens with an atmospheric and vacant instrumental, packed with strings, but cuts to a catchy, poppy verse in “But I don’t like a gold rush,” which immediately drew me into the song. The song also ends with a transition back out to that same beautiful instrumental, polishing the rough edges of the music. No specific lines stand out, but as a whole, the song’s lyrical narrative stands out just as much as its beautiful instrumental, leaving it one of the most well-crafted songs on the album. 

‘tis the damn season

I didn’t dislike “‘tis the damn season,” as it’s quite pretty, but I also find myself losing this song in the midst of the others. The song is centered around two people home for the holidays, and I feel like that’s about as far as the narrative goes, especially compared to songs like champagne problems that progressively evolve as the song goes on. I will say, the lyric  “It’s the kind of cold, fogs up windshield glass/But I felt it when I passed you,” was a wonderful intro for the song thematically.

tolerate it

Taylor Swift hits hard with a true-to-fashion fifth track soul crusher. The song is inspired by the book “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier, which follows a woman who marries a widowed man who can’t let go of the memory of his late wife, Rebecca. The man seems to merely tolerate the new woman, much like the narrator in “tolerate it,” who is “drawing hearts in the bylines” of an ambivalent man’s life. I love the literary references in many of Swift’s songs because of the depth they add to her writing, and “tolerate it” is a perfect example of how it works so well. 

no body, no crime ft. HAIM

In a change of pace, Swift throws in “no body, no crime” to remind listeners how indivisible country music and scorned women really are (think “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood). I loved “no body, no crime” for its heavy-handed, but entertaining, take on a murder mystery that was really easy to listen to despite being fairly story-heavy. 

happiness 

“happiness” has a wonderful message, but unfortunately, it’s 5 minutes and 14 seconds long, which really impacted the pacing of the album and my tendency to file this song as a skip. If I am going to listen to a slow song called “Happiness,” I’m probably going to pick Rex Orange County’s, even though I know this might be upsetting to Swift fans. I do really like the lyric, “I can’t make it go away by making you a villain,” though. 

dorothea

“dorothea” reminds me of all the peaceful places in the world and brings me back to all the best moments of my life. This song is the musical equivalent of a warm hug. It isn’t complex, it isn’t particularly clever, it’s just a wonderful song based around a wonderful narrative. Dorothea has moved on with her life and taken to bigger and better things, but there are still people back home that still think of her and wish the best for her. I’ll always love the lyric, “The stars in your eyes/Shined brighter in Tupelo.” 

coney island ft. The National

“coney island” is a sad song, but I have a hard time resonating with it. There’s something about this track that seems a bit stiff. It definitely conveys the feeling of being trapped in a moment in time, but I just can’t say this song ever really grabbed my full attention. 

ivy 

I really enjoy “ivy,” and find it to be really refreshing after “coney island.” The subject matter isn’t meant to be entertaining, wherein the narrator finds themself attracted to someone other than their partner, but it’s very easy to listen to. Much like the narrator is conflicted by how easy it is to get lost in the “opal eyes” of another, it’s very easy to let yourself fall into this song. The song doesn’t feel cold, it feels welcoming, and it’s an interesting parallel for the instrumental to mirror the feelings of the narrator so completely. The ivy metaphor is also well done, i.e. “My house of stone, your ivy grows/And now I’m covered/In you.” 

cowboy like me

“cowboy like me” is just such a good song, in that, every part of this arrangement feels intentional and meaningful, resulting in a track that is a joy to listen to in every way. The guitar in this song is my favorite instrumentation from the album. It feels like you’re just listening to someone playing in the corner of a bar without anyone to impress but themself, and meshes so beautifully with the other elements of the song. It goes without saying that I loved the lyrics, and this was my favorite story from the album as well. The standout lyrics for me were, “Forever is the sweetest con,” and “Takes one to know one/You’re a cowboy like me.” 

long story short

“long story short” is a fun, poppy, easy point of relief in the evermore album. I liked the lyrics, I liked the instrumental, and overall, I liked the song, even if it isn’t the crowning jewel of this album. Just as the phrase “long story short” refines something complex into something easy and accessible, the song takes an idea for a narrative and keeps it simple: They went for the wrong person, but now they’ve found the right person, and they’ve moved on. 

marjorie 

The way that Swift encapsulates the spirit of her late grandmother, Marjorie, in this song is perfect, and it presents itself as a beautiful and tasteful tribute. I especially love the opening of the song, “Never be so kind, you forget to be clever/Never be so clever, you forget to be kind.” I also appreciate how this song wasn’t too specific as to make the circumstance unrelatable to others, but instead reflects on a feeling many people can resonate with if they’ve lost a loved one. Overall, it was a beautiful song. 

closure

“closure” is a song that I would have liked to enjoy more, but however much I like the idea of the song, I don’t love the execution. Following the story of someone moving on without the closure they thought they needed could have been powerful (especially when in real life many narratives don’t get cinematic endings or clear resolutions). Unfortunately, the instrumental of this song was abrasive, and even though it’s intentionally rough to connect with such a  jaded narrative, it’s a harsh transition from a song like “marjorie.” 

evermore ft. Bon Iver 

I think that compared to “hoax” on Swift’s folklore album, “evermore” is much more successful as a closing track. Reflective in nature, Swift begins the song by saying that this “pain would be for evermore,” but ends the song with, “this pain wouldn’t be for evermore,” which is a really powerful sentiment. The abrupt transition in pacing toward the middle of the song, during which Justin Vernon’s vocals come into play is also incredible and adds a new layer to the song. Overall, the song not only wrapped up the album but wrapped up Swift’s indie-folk era and the year of 2020, in a well thought out and meaningful way. 

As was the case with folklore, evermore has blown me away. It’s especially impressive knowing that Swift was writing during such a significant moment of history, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest and continual societal change. She managed to navigate writing and releasing music when people needed it most, and her message is cognizant of the events we have all experienced recently. Though not every track was my absolute favorite, the vast majority of these songs I found well-written, meaningful and beautiful. I might even dare to say I liked this album more than folklore. All in all, the evermore album was a joy to listen to, and I can’t wait to see what endeavors Swift explores next. 

 

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