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Spins: Taylor Swift • evermore

| December 31, 2020

Taylor Swift


(Taylor Swift)

Despite the roller-coaster year that was 2020, it seems that nothing can stop Taylor Swift from doing what she does best. Swift dropped her surprising second no-skip album of the year in early December, somehow managing to display her own genius yet again. Continuing the contemporary alternative writing of her July album folklore, evermore is the moodier, cooler, pop rockier little sister. Swift said in an Instagram post, “It feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in.” Swift continued her acclaimed collaborations with Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Justin Vernon, and William Bowery, who we now know is English actor Joe Alwyn, Swift’s longtime boyfriend. evermore yet again features Bon Iver on its title track but expands its collaborations, this time with features from The National and HAIM. Although similar to folklore in it’s mature, decentralized writing, evermore is much more versatile and daring in its musical accompaniments, most notably shown in “‘tis the damn season” with its electric guitar-driven instrumentals. evermore further strays from her sister record through the pop-heavy notes within “gold rush” and “long story short,” along with a unique 5/4 time signature over staccato drums in track “cloture.”

Taylor Swift has a talent for striking familiarity within her songs, and back-to-back tracks “champagne problems” and “gold rush” do this beautifully. Fan favorite “champagne problems,” a story of a failed proposal, continues the same chord progression as Red track “All Too Well” and Lover track “Cornelia Street,” both standouts on their respective albums and within Swift’s entire discography. The standout pop track “gold rush” not so subtly takes to the liking of Lorde’s “Green Light,” another work from Jack Antonoff. Both tracks are in the same key with the same chord progression, switching to a Mixolydian mode, creating an infectious adrenaline rush buildup to the chorus.

“Nobody, no crime” featuring sister trio HAIM is the most country we’ve heard from Swift in years. The track takes to the likes of Carrie Underwood’s hit “Before He Cheats,” exploring the murder of a woman named Este and the subsequent murder of her husband. The true-crime anthem displays Swift’s storytelling at its rawest, slowly unveiling the singer as the revenge killing of Este’s husband.

And “coney island” featuring The National is easily the most lyrically daring track, particularly in the bridge. The song seems to refer back to several of Swift’s previous relationships: “Were you standing in the hallway with a big cake happy birthday” referencing her past relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal, taking note of the Red bonus track “The Moment I Knew,” where Swift recounts Gyllenhaal’s absence at her birthday party. The line “did I paint your bluest skies the darkest gray?” is likely related to Swift’s notorious Speak Now track “Dear John” about John Mayer, where Swift sings, “you paint me a blue sky then go back and turn it to rain.”

Despite Swift’s successful attempts at straying from her own experiences and relationships within her songwriting, “marjorie” proves that sometimes the most personal art can be the most universal. The track, named after Swift’s late grandmother Marjorie Finlay, exhibits the connection between Swift and the advice given by her grandmother. The track includes Finlay’s operatic vocals alongside a drone sampled from folklore’s “peace.”

If you had two Taylor Swift essential albums released this year on your 2020 pandemic bingo-card, raise your hand. I don’t see too many hands.

9 of 10

-Riley Vernon


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