By Sohani Mittal
The American singer-songwriter, Taylor Alison Swift, has been mesmerising people with her songs all around the world. The singer’s songwriting often revolves around her personal life, but this time it has received extensive censorious praise and media acknowledgement.
While 2020 was assumed to include a Taylor Swift Lover fest stadium tour. Due to COVID-19 canceling her tour, Swift dropped a surprise album on Friday, July 24. Taylor Nation, which is her fan base, is totally shocked and going nuts.
Unlike her previous albums, folklore was released as a surprise, without the long buildup and anticipation often related to Taylor’s new music. She announced its debut on Thursday morning, just a touch over 12 hours before the album would be shared with the general public.
“Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed” Taylor wrote on Instagram at the time. “My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with.”
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Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore. Surprise 🤗Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine; @aarondessner (who has co-written or produced 11 of the 16 songs), @boniver (who co-wrote and was kind enough to sing on one with me), William Bowery (who co-wrote two with me) and @jackantonoff (who is basically musical family at this point). Engineered by Laura Sisk and Jon Low, mixed by Serban Ghenea & Jon Low. The album photos were shot by the amazing @bethgarrabrant. Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with. Love you guys so much ♥️
The album, folklore is Swift’s eighth full-length overall and comes less than a year after Lover. Its 16 tracks were co-produced by Aaron Dessner of indie rock outfit The National. His bandmate and brother Bryce Dessner provided “beautiful orchestration on several songs from across the ocean,” while Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Lover collaborator Jack Antonoff, and William Bower also contributed in various capacities.
In a statement, Swift said that “Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen.” The 30-year-old pop star explained that she “wrote and recorded this music in isolation… with some musical heroes of mine,” and that she “poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into” the album.
Swift’s folklore marks her first album since vowing to be more politically active in the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential Election. The Grammy winner has made good on this promise so far — she’s strongly endorsed her own local Democratic leaders, donated to LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, and for the very first time, slammed Donald Trump using her very public Twitter platform. In that very concise but stinging tweet this past May, she accused Trump of “stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism” in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. For his part, POTUS has childishly responded to Swift’s insults by saying he liked her music “25 percent less.”
01. The 1
03. The Last Great American Dynasty
04. Exile” (feat. Bon Iver)
05. My Tears Ricochet
09. This Is Me Trying
10. Illicit Affairs
11. Invisible String
12. Mad Woman
Perhaps the sonic experimentation on ‘folklore’ isn’t really about embracing a brand new genre most as abandoning any sense of duty to those she’s been built upon. Country, pop, ’80s rock, hip-hop: they’ve merely been vessels, weapons she knows the way to trigger to advance the central tenets of Swiftiness.
The desolate, stubborn, over-composed indie rock of ‘folklore’, though, may be a tricky thicket to tame. Sometimes she triumphs, wrestling it until it’s slack. But when it stifles her, it deserves all the attention rolls it gets.