Recently, Taylor Swift has surprised us all and came up with a sister record to Folklore that she named Evermore. She released the album on her birthday and it seems to be everybody’s favorite new album of 2020 even though it had a somewhat of a late release. I wanted to ask a few questions to our beloved music columnist Anais about her thoughts on the album and discuss Evermore with her.
Janset: What are your overall opinions about Evermore?
Anais: I think it’s a marvelous body of work that just feels so organic and so raw. It’s definitely one of, if not the best, record she has created thus far. Her voice has strengthened so much over the years and so has her ability as a songwriter. I love all of her past work but I think this record is her finding her true sound. I love it.
Janset: I completely agree. I am relatively late to the Taylor Swift hype as I started enjoying her music after the release of Folklore, however I can also see that Evermore has something way more specific about it whether it’d be the lyrics, the concepts and the general flow of the album.
Anais: I feel like it must be so interesting to experience Taylor and her sound as a new fan. I’ve been a big fan since the first record in 2006 (Wow, I’m old). As an older fan, I loved experiencing songs with the sound that I enjoyed from previous records, especially because she gave a fresh new twist to them, with her clearly improved abilities. I’ve ached for more songs like “All Too Well” off “Red” and I feel like she’s giving that to us. What elements of Evermore surprised you?
Janset: I really enjoyed how Evermore is more experimental compared to Folklore. Take Closure for an instance, we get to hear a the 1975-esque intro in the beginning of the songs which I really enjoyed. I think it’s a great way of her showing that she can do way more than writing good lyrics.
Anais: “Closure” was certainly one of the ones that caught me off guard in a way that felt fresh and even alluring. I also think this shows on “gold rush” with each segment such as the intro, verses, and refrain all sounding independent of each other and emitting entirely different energies, especially from that of the chorus. Off Folklore, for example, “seven” and “mirrorball” sound so ethereal and dreamy. I think both records have great moments in terms of musicality and with intricacies in production and I must say–I love them all equally but in various and unique ways.
Janset: I just kind of wished that she incorporated more out-there and bold production techniques and not shy away from it but at the same time both albums are leaning toward the “singer/songwriter” genre so that makes sense. The HAIM featured song “No Body, No Crime” sparked my attention too, due to its deep Americana themed country construction. It makes you feel like you are listening to a song that you have heard 20 years ago in a random country radio station but no, it has a very unique and modern twist to it too. I loved the story-telling and very specific elements that she added to the narrative like the Olive Garden bit. How do you care for storytelling and lyrics? Personally, I know that if I’m listening to a record like such I tend to pay more attention to lyrics.
Anais: “No Body No Crime” took a little time to grow on me but now I love it. AS I said before, I enjoy how she’s reconnecting with her roots but in a new modernized way. In regards to lyrics, I’m the same way; they’re what I focus on and even obsess over the most. For both of my first listens to Evermore and Folklore, I followed along intently to each word on Genius. I’ve always loved Taylor’s insistence on keeping songwriting as the revolving force of her music and I think that has been the reason she has been one of my favorite artists for so long. At first, I wasn’t too used to her writing not being diaristic. At first, it did make me feel a little disconnected from the songs themselves because they were disconnected from Taylor in a sense. As a reader, writer, and poet, I’ve always enjoyed nonfiction works the best. Fiction has never been my thing, whether I’m consuming or creating. It was a little hard for me to accept that these were fictitious tales that she was telling. I think I was able to get over that by listening more and more and growing to appreciate the lyrics simply for what they were and realizing that the emotions she displays come from a very real place. At the end of the day, I think it was a beautifully bold choice for the record. What are some of your favorite lyrics?
Janset: There are soooo many. I think “happiness” moves something in me which is very personal. It’s a breakup song without pettiness, acknowledging you are happy and you want your ex-partner to be happy too, and you truly feel it for once. As simple as it is I love “There'll be happiness after you but there was happiness because of you both of these things can be true there is happiness. Past the blood and bruise, past the curses and cries, beyond the terror in the nightfall, haunted by the look in my eyes that would've loved you for a lifetime, leave it all behind and there is happiness.” I got goosebumps again writing that. Whatever you experience with a person, just because it ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fond memory and I love that concept. Wishing the worst upon your ex-partner is a very common concept and at times it seems like it’s the “normal” thing to do. However I just find that very petty. To quote Taylor again, “There is happiness in our history, across our great divide, there is a glorious sunrise dappled with the flickers of light from the dress I wore at midnight, leave it all behind and there is happiness.” I also love the bit when she says “ god damn my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand.” It's such a poetic way to express mutual pain. I guess talking about the song happiness for a long while, I made it clear that it was my favorite song off the record. What about you? What were your favorite tracks off the record?
Anais: I think “gold rush” really takes the cake for me. It’s so dreamlike but also catchy as hell. A very close second, or maybe even a tie, would be “champagne problems.” I love how dark yet passionate it is. Also, the bridge of the song is so powerful and almost unlike anything she has done before, in the best way possible. I think I would give absolutely anything to be able to scream, “What a shame she’s fucked in the head” at one of her live shows. Hopefully one day. Lastly, I love “ivy.” The chorus gets stuck in my head so easily and the bridge is beautifully haunting.
Janset: I loved champagne problems too. It seemed to be the darkest song of all and I avoid listening to it on a happy day as I know that I’m going to be fucked if I “just listen to it”.
Anais: How does Evermore measure up to Folklore in your opinion? Do you favor one over the other?
Janset: When I first heard Evermore I thought I could never like it as much as Folklore but as it grew on me, I started noticing that Evermore has more polar opposites than Folklore. She has quirky and uplifting songs like dorothea and gold rush and have the biggest downer songs like champagne problems and coney island. Also the themes seems to vary way more. What did you think the biggest differences were between Folklore and Evermore?
Anais: I think Evermore focuses on a broader range of topics. True to the album covers, it feels like Folklore but with color, as if it’s breaking out of the black and white. Both records have tales of deep heartbreak that pierce your soul yet Evermore feels like a conclusion to Folklore. With Taylor, she usually reinvents herself after each album. Her style and her sound all shift into something new and fresh. But Evermore doesn’t do that. It’s a continuation instead and it left me feeling so satisfied because I think it was something that was very much needed. It’s as if Folklore was the opening of the door that Evermore was able to close gracefully. Evermore features very talented and prominent artists–The National, Haim, and Bon Iver. How do you feel about these feature tracks?
Janset: To be honest with you, Bon Iver featured songs don’t work well for me. I didn’t love exile and I don’t necessarily love evermore either. Knowing and appreciating Bon Iver for his unorthodox production, I expected him to add an interesting production value to the songs. However, the HAIM feature as I just talked about, made me very intrigued by the path that they have chosen to follow.
Anais: What are your least favorite tracks off Evermore? Why?
Janset: I couldn’t really get into “cowboy like me” and thats the only one that I can say that I didn’t like. The progression doesn’t do much for me and I don’t really care for the lyrics and the story behind it. I might regret ever writing these though, my mind changes quite fast.