Swift’s surprise album expands on ‘folklore’

Former pop-princess Taylor Swift released a surprise album in December 2020. Like her previous release ‘folklore,’ the record, ‘evermore,’ is pop-folk. // Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift

Our Take: 4/5 Stars

Less than six months following the release of the smash hit “folklore,” Taylor Swift made yet another surprise release on Dec. 11 with an encore album featuring her new folk acoustic sound. “evermore,” Swift’s ninth record, is dubbed the sister-record to its predecessor — that much is clear.

A sequel album is always appreciated, but Swift fans can not help but wonder where the twist is. “evermore,” while still the final saving grace of 2020, sounds like it consists of the leftover songs from “folklore.” The material is not stale yet, but is dangerously close to being labelled as such.

The record kicks off with the lead single, “willow,” another brokenhearted anthem of a past love. While “willow” is simultaneously the perfect song to both dance and cry to, it is a familiar echo of more than a few songs from “folklore.”

Swift has honed in on the themes and styles her fan base enjoys most, but is quickly exhausting her inspiration material for folk-pop heartache.

A surprise title, “‘tis the damn season,” marks the first time Swift, once the young and innocent girl-next-door, has used a curse word in a song title.

The name and cold weather themes of the song hint at a Christmas melody, especially considering the month during which Swift released the album. The lyrics, however, contain nothing related to the winter holidays; rather, “tis the damn season” is a nostalgic ode to a fleeting, long-distance relationship.

But perhaps the biggest shock of evermore is the angry revenge ballad, “no body, no crime,” featuring HAIM, a pop rock band consisting of a trio of sisters, the eldest of whom shares a name with the main character of the song, Este.

This mysterious woman has an unfaithful husband, who is suspected of teaming up with his mistress to kill his wife to be. While the song’s narrator, friend to Este, does not openly admit to the murder of the deceitful spouse, she wickedly hints at her plan to kill him and frame his mistress.

This song in particular shows how Swift has defied the sweetheart-of-country-music label given to her at 16 and recreated herself as a woman of all genres.

However, Swift has failed to let go of the romantic themes that were the focus of her teenage career.

Each song from “evermore” is a lament to another failed relationship. It is hard to tire of Swift’s independent, needs-no-man personality, especially following a decade’s worth of love — and breakup — songs. But one is left to ask when she plans to come up with any new material, especially given that this album is a carbon copy of the last.

Following the evolution of Swift’s music from one phase to the next, fans know she can be depended upon for new material.

The question, though, is how soon the next genre adventure can begin.