Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album, evermore, a companion to folklore, has now been released and is receiving a warm reception, just like its predecessor. I’ve only given it one pass start to finish, and it usually takes me at least a couple to get a hold of how I feel about new music but I do have some early thoughts. Let’s start with the first track, “willow” and the video that also dropped last night. As noted yesterday, she’s dressed like a bride but I don’t know that she’s saying anything bridal here. This video is an immediate connection to “cardigan”, basically picking up from where that video left off, and it’s a meditation on fame, and how her lover helped her escape it.
Taylor’s love interest here is played by Taeok Lee. If he looks familiar it’s because he’s danced on tour with her before. And he’s HOT.
Also his dog is adorable:
I can very much relate to this next photo because one of our dogs, Elvis, has to be held all the time like a baby:
Back to the music though – I feel about “willow” the way I feel about its sister song, if you will; it’s good but I wouldn’t say it’s close to being the standout song on the album. Taylor has made it known that track five on her albums is the one that holds extra special meaning for her. On folklore, track five is “my tears ricochet” and it is indeed what I consider to be the strongest. (Second is “exile”.) Some have interpreted this song to be about Karlie Kloss, and the end of their friendship (or romance, if you’re one of those conspiracy theorists). With Taylor Swift and songwriting, the constant preoccupation is often what she’s saying about her personal life in her lyrics, the easter eggs she’s constantly planting for her fans. On folklore and evermore though, I don’t know if that’s all that interesting? Taylor has said that on these two albums specifically, she was stepping outside of her own personal experiences to tell stories about other lives, other people, imagined and actual – and she’s GOOD at it. There may be some songs that combine and layer what she’s been through but a lot of the work here is her creating narratives that don’t necessarily have to be about her. “my tears ricochet” is about how ugly it is when a relationship is over. How shocking it is to feel so much hate for someone you used to love so much. How cruel we can be to the people who used to be our whole lives. How this bitterness makes you petty. Petty enough to say to them that you know they can’t forget you…but also because you can’t forget them either. That’s the worst pain of it all.
“You wear the same jewels that I gave you
As you bury me”
Track five on evermore is “tolerate it” and it too is a song from a scar that doesn’t have to be her own. Anyone who’s felt like a second-class citizen in a relationship, anyone who’s loved a taker, can relate to this. There’s a lyric that specifically stood out to me that reminded me of another by another artist. This is Taylor’s:
“Use my best colors for your portrait
Lay the table with the fancy sh-t
And watch you tolerate it”
And Selena Gomez from “Lose You To Love Me”:
“Sang off-key in my chorus
'Cause it wasn't yours”
I’m not saying that Taylor is singing about Selena. I’m just saying she can be singing about a lot of people other than herself and has been on these two albums, and I’m so enjoying this era of her creativity. As I said, I haven’t really gone deep on the album yet but the other standout for me so far is “no body, no crime” featuring HAIM.
Taylor wrote this song inspired by true crime – podcasts, series, etc – and how we can all get obsessed, like we know better than the investigators, and there are now thriving online communities, like True Crime Society, with regular people literally on the case, following their theories about real murders. (PS Have you been following the Alexis Sharkey situation?) Taylor’s song is a story about someone who is on the case, someone who has nothing to do with the case, and then perhaps gets pulled into the case…
And Selena Gomez happens to be shooting a comedy with Steve Martin and Martin Short about exactly that! This is the evermore easter egg I care most about.