Artist: Taylor Swift Album: evermore
Just five months after the release of her surprise album folklore, Taylor Swift followed suit with the sister album, evermore. Birth order is important here. If folklore is the classic older sister — a cautious, yet starry-eyed dreamer — then evermore is the brazen, mischievous younger sibling. The record throws caution to the wind with little room for remorse. Yet, its secondhand soundscape mirrors the imitative patterns of a younger sister. Much like folklore, the writing on evermore was a collaborative effort between Swift, Aaron Dessner (of The National), Jack Antonoff, Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), and William Bowery (a pseudonym for her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn).
Alone, Swift remains a dynamic and powerful vocalist — namely her bullet-proof delivery in “closure” (“Don’t treat me like some situation that needs to be ‘handled’”). Confessional lyricism has long been her superpower, and evermore is no exception. Swift navigates the ashes of her relationships with a sense of wonder, especially with the yuletide romance in “'tis the damn season.” She treats each song like a blank page, her thoughts spilling into the margins, using every open space to describe the creaking floors of a cabin, the fog on the windshield, the hiding spot under high school bleachers.
This album is the apotheosis of Taylor Swift; songs of curiosity and of consequence, darkness and light, a time capsule of the Covid-19 pandemic, proof that a person cannot escape hardship but she can change perspective. During an interview for Apple, Swift stated that “evermore” — the titular track — has two meanings regarding months and feelings. She goes on to say that the first meaning stems from writing this song just before the 2020 United States presidential election and preparing for the worst possible outcome (‘staring out an open window catching my death’). She also reflects back to a “life-altering experience from July-November in 2016” where she was “taking it day-by-day and trying to find a glimmer of hope.” In the last chorus of "evermore”, she goes inside and is “warm and safe” so this song represents the process of finding hope from two different times in her life (2016 and 2020). When she lands on “Barefoot in the wildest winter, catching my death,” it sounds like an oblique image of pain and sorrow, as upsetting as it should be, to finally drain her of hope for the future. But she still has it. In the song’s final line, in a critical display of self-acceptance, she touches the sky: She knows this “pain wouldn’t be for evermore.” And when she says it, you believe her.