Well, I never thought this would happen.
Taylor Swift has now released two full albums in 2020, one which I have already covered, folklore (review here), and evermore, her newest album, which dropped on Friday the 11th of December. I already shared by initial thoughts on this album on my social media, but now, it’s time for the full review.
Evermore is supposed to be the ‘sister album’ of folklore, with the songs for both albums written in the same time period. According to Swift, herself and collaborators Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff and William Bowery (who we now know is Swift’s boyfriend, Joe Alwyn) couldn’t stop writing music during lockdown, and thus decided to make two albums instead of one. Similarly to folklore, many of the songs are about different characters that Swift made up, rather than her own life and experiences. As such, these songs all tell stories or “folk tales” that will be shared “forevermore”.
Musically, evermore keeps the alternative/folk style from its sister album, however, the music here feels more upbeat to me. The songs are less minor in tone and a lot of them lean more towards Swift’s pop and country roots. Take the lead single, “willow”. Compared to folklore’s “cardigan”, “willow” is much more happy and bright, with a pretty, catchy melody and an almost mystical guitar line. “cardigan” to me always felt really alternative in style; “willow” moves more towards folk and pop.
I also feel that this is the most country Swift has ever been since 2012’s RED, even more so than folklore. Listening to songs like “no body, no crime”, “dorothea” and “ivy” made me feel like I was going back in time! These songs feature acoustic guitar, steel guitar, banjos and more country-esque instruments. Also thematically these songs feel country: singing about cheating lovers, murder, fame and fortune. She also mixes the country with rock, particularly in “no body, no crime” which I really like. This country/folk/rock style from Swift is probably one of my favourite genres that she has experimented with. I guess revisiting and rerecording her old music has inspired her to write country-rock music again!
It is weird how the music is more upbeat because lyrically and thematically, evermore is much more sad and emotional. Yes, there are some happy songs about love, like “willow”, but majority of the songs lean more towards heartbreak, sadness and overall just depressing topics. Swift sings about divorce, heartbreak, cheating, affairs, the troubles of fame and moving on. The lyrical quality is still excellent, and the themes match the musical elements quite well in almost all of the songs.
Although it’s a good album, evermore has its weak points, unlike the near perfect folklore, which I consider to be basically a perfect album. Take the track “closure”, for example. The piano part and vocal line is nice, and the lyrics are once again great, as Swift sings about a relationship that ended terribly, stating that “I don’t need your closure”. While this song has all the elements of being a great track, the production completely ruins it for me. Why on earth Swift and producer Dessner decided to put a random electronic drum beat ‘thing’ in the background of this song is a mystery. The song feels all over the place, there is no clear beat, and honestly the percussion just makes the song harder to listen to. It’s sad, because I didn’t want to have any skips on this album. But unfortunately, “closure” will definitely be a song I will skip.
I also think that the choice to have The National frontman Matt Berninger sing on “coney island” with Swift was not a great idea. It’s nothing against him or his voice personally, it’s just that his and Swift’s voices do not gel together nicely, creating a real mish-mash of melody and harmony. Although I will say, that song gives me major Bruce Springsteen vibes, I’ll give T Swift credit for that!
Overall, evermore is a solid album. There are definitely some great tracks on here, and I like the musical style and production for the most part. It just doesn’t feel as special as folklore did to me. Even when listening for the first time, I instantly loved folklore and a lot of the songs on it. When listening to evermore, I didn’t feel as excited or love the album as much as I did with folklore. To quote one review, “evermore contains leftovers from folklore and simply repeats its trick”.
That’s not to say there aren’t songs that I do like on evermore. Here are my five favourites:
One of the more country sounding songs on the album, “ivy” is reportedly a part of the Dark Marriage Trilogy, similar to folklore’s Teenage Love Triangle trilogy of songs. Here, Swift sings about a married woman’s temptation to have an affair with another man. The melody is very pretty, and Swift’s voice sounds fantastic. Musically, the song is filled with banjos and steel guitar, feeling super country. Even the chorus’ use of harmonies, and the lyric “oh, god damn” feels super country. Overall, I just really enjoy listening to this song. It’s nice and catchy, and enjoyable to listen to. One of the highlights on the album.
“dorothea” is a song from a male perspective, similar to folklore’s “betty”. The narrator sings to Dorothea, a girl who left her small town to chase down Hollywood dreams, and tries to convince her to come back to the small town, and to be with him. To be honest, this song reminds me of a combination of “Hey Stephen” from Fearless and “The Lucky One” from RED. The “dorothea, uh-uh” reminds me so much of “Hey Stephen’s” “uh, uh” line
during the intro. Another catchy song with country and rock elements, that is definitely worth listening to.
3. ’tis the damn season
Interestingly, “’tis the damn season” is supposed to be connected to “dorothea”. Where “dorothea” is from the boy’s perspective, “’tis the damn season” is from Dorothea’s perspective, as she returns home for the holidays and decides to rekindle their old flame. Musically, this song is based around a nice guitar line, with some percussion and bass. Again, the melody is nice and catchy, and fits well with the lyrical themes. I just adore the line “tis the damn season”! It’s such a clever and great line! A fun song to listen to, and another highlight on the album.
4. champagne problems
Another song written by Swift and her boyfriend Joe Alwyn, “champagne problems” is a piano-based song that is EXTREMELY sad. I was shocked when I heard this song was actually about rejecting a proposal and thus breaking the heart of the man. After listening again, it makes so much sense to me. Also, was there something that happened between Joe and Taylor that they need to reveal? She is singing about rejecting a marriage proposal! Honestly, this song makes me want to cry even though I’ve never even been in a relationship. Literally listening to it whilst writing this review was hard! Basically, if you want a sad song to cry to from evermore, this is it.
5. no body, no crime
A cool, rock-esque song featuring the all-female band HAIM, “no body, no crime” is the most country song on this album. Swift sings about her friend, Este, who suspects her husband is cheating on her. Eventually, Este goes missing, the husband continues sleeping with his mistress, and Swift decides to murder him, hiding the crime. Even thematically, this song is pure country. Cheating husbands, murder, infidelity, the whole nine yards. Musically, it also feels country, with banjos, steel guitar and harmonica carrying the song along. The rockiest song on the album.
So, that was evermore. Again, it is a solid album, with some great songs, solid lyrics and catchy instrumentals. However, it just doesn’t have the magic that folklore does. I don’t know if it’s because folklore was so different from Swift’s previous music and I was excited to hear a new style for her, whereas evermore is more of the same, or if I just haven’t gotten over folklore yet. But I will still listen to a lot of the songs on the album, and I may even decide eventually to buy the vinyl! Long story short (get it!), if you liked folklore, you will also enjoy evermore.
What are your thoughts on evermore? Let me know below!
Also, check out my Taylor Swift album ranking, which I have now updated with evermore! Check out where I have ranked it, and let me know where you would rank it!