Taylor Swift - folklore
Jul 24, 2020
85
Sometimes as a listener you simply need to get over yourself. Taylor Swift has come with fifteen years of hate for the music she's released in her young age, shifting from up-and-coming country artist to pop megastar before the age of 25. Even as her sound took on some minor variations on Lover, where she showed glimpses of maturity in her songwriting but equal flashes of the sugary pop that soured her on critical listeners, she didn't receive an exceptional amount of praise for the growth she did have.

It seems that Taylor herself has, in a sense, gotten over herself here as a thirty year old. With nearly no bells and whistles, Swift dropped her eighth album and allowed the music to speak for itself rather than it being built out of hype. Of course, no need to hype T-Swift anymore given that a surprise release may be even more shocking for the artist than building the album up with singles and YouTube videos.

She also seems to have matured even further, almost astronomically, since her last release. Where that album had flashes of hope, folklore is her brightest star as a songwriter and a vocalist. This potential was seen in her early years; a confessional teen using the storytelling of country music to spin her teenage angst into webs. Her shift into a maximalist folk sound, aided by Aaron Dessner of The National who really makes this sonic atmosphere a realm of discovery, gives her voice an airy and ethereal feeling well beyond anything she's released in her fifteen year career. Often, the bubbly pop star persona didn't feel like it fit like a snug glove for Swift. This blend of sincere pop, indie rock, folk, and perhaps most predominately the piano featured throughout, is perhaps the most comfortable she's ever sounded.

There really are few blemishes across this record. The songwriting on Cardigan almost felt a little sophomoric compared to the rest of the record, but even that song is better than really anything else she's released prior to this album. Betty is the closest she's come to country in a decade, and for some that might have been unwelcome, but if you tell me the harmonica buzzing into the track didn't make you thrilled you really aren't trying to enjoy this. Otherwise, every song seems to tell an important narrative, flow along with the ambience of the record, and ultimately feel pressing for the artist. Where Lover suffered from too much going on, this album suffers no such fate; there is no filler over-stuffing folklore, only essential tracks that make this album so essential.

If folklore doesn't bring you solace in not only difficult times like these, but also in the potential that Taylor Swift has exhibited throughout her lifetime, there isn't much Swift can do to sway you any longer. The album has every feature of an album you should enjoy; the only thing that might be in the way is Taylor Swift herself. For those willing to feel how genuine and well-written these songs are, not to mention how beautiful they sound, you've arrived at a time where Taylor Swift has finally reached that potential. Bask in the warmth it brings, and watch carefully to see where she goes next.

Favorite track: epiphany
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