Music lover and Spotify addicted - listened to 153 thousand tracks this year. Self explanatory
"The Sister Album" - Taylor Swift
A little over four months ago, Taylor Swift presented us with her new indie style record "Folklore". Setting astray from her previously pop infused "Lover", "Folklore" still managed to please swifties and mainstream audience alike, propelling the album to number one on the Billboard 200. This was a result of simultaneously breaking mainstream Spotify records as most streamed album in a day, and reaching US platinum status in three weeks, Taylor's indie inspired melodies and songwriting had succeeded.
But 2020 didn't stop there for Taylor and her fans. Stuck in quarantine like everyone else on this planet, the Love Story songwriter had plenty of time to put down her thoughts and deliver her storytelling in this "sister album" Evermore, as she stated herself. "To put it plainly, we just couldn't stop writing songs".
Released at midnight on all streaming and purchasing platforms, with little warning, Twitter had just exploded in commentaries on every single track in the first hour of release, predicting another record breaking album.
As a music fan in general, prone to succumb to the latest musical trends, even if just out of curiosity, I did my fair share and put the album on rotational review enough times to fully listen and review each track on "Evermore".
1. Willow - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
The first song is set to be the lead single, currently atop many popular "Newly Released" playlists on Spotify, which itself is a predictor of the number of streams this track is about to garner. With a piano and guitar to embody the vocals, Swift delivers another love dedication while “begging for you to take my hand. Wreck my plans, that’s my man.” The sound resonates its predecessor "Folklore" and tells us immediately what we are bound to expect from this album of four months' creation.
2. Champagne Problems - written by Taylor Swift and William Bowery
This song about a rejected proposal, ending with a girl saying "no", could dwell us into Taylor's current affairs and make us assume it's another personal storytelling which we are unaware of. However, when asked, the songwriter stated clearly that this song is fictional.
A piano ballad throughout its entire course, with lower register tones and new age background chanting, this song is likely to please the Swift ballad lovers as it resembles many of her previous songs of this genre, in that sense. "She would've made such a lovely bride, What a shame she's fucked in the head, they said" is one of the insights you'll find on this fictional character who clearly has champagne problems.
3. Gold Rush - written by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff
Probably the most pop-like song of the album and co-written with fellow artist Jack Antonoff. With a richer instrumental background than the previous two songs and vocal dubbing throughout the track, the gold rush is more about that person who everybody wants: "What must it be like to grow up that beautiful?", "Everybody wants you", "Everybody wonders what it would be like to love you". The lyrics have led the fans to question which ex is Taylor referring to? Clearly someone she doesn't want to deal with herself as "anyone would die to feel your touch", "I don't like anticipatin' my face in a red flush", "I don't like a gold rush".
Willow is Evermore's lead single
4. 'Tis the Damn Season - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
This is probably my favourite song from the album. An electric bass and sparse percussion accompany the harmonizing vocal dubbing Taylor performs throughout this soft rock ballad.
Despite what the title may suggest and the timing of release, the lyrics make very few allusions to the Christmas holidays with no instrumental intention of being the next holiday jingle; it rather hints to her rekindling with an old lover from her hometown to whom she could nonchalantly reconnect with "only on the weekends", while leaving her actual lover behind.
5. Tolerate It - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
This piano ballad carries, in my opinion, one of the best storytelling and heartbreaking lyrics of the album, reflecting on the feelings of the character whose unrequited love by their partner while still in the relationship is a cause of heartbreak. Having confessed publicly to writing many lyrics based on shows and movies watched while in quarantine, Taylor did admit to watching The Crown which explains the multitude of fan speculations about the song telling Diana's story during her engagement with Prince Charles. "You're so much older and wiser", "Where's that man who'd throw blankets over my barbed wire?" "I greet you with a battle hero's welcome, I take your indiscretions all in good fun", are just some hints to explain the swifties' beliefs. Candle in the wind storytelling or not, a ballad with lyrics prone to identify with many listeners' lives and give their situation a voice.
6. No Body, No Crime - written by Taylor Swift
This song features the HAIM sisters, best known for their 2013 hit "Falling". Followed by a police siren, and an initial verse that almost seems to me like a sample of Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" intro verse, this guitar country ballad talks about Este, a woman who was killed by her husband after complaining about his infidelities but nobody can prove he did it (no body, no crime).
The vocals blend in perfectly on this track although I believe Taylor could have carried this track on her own, and we wouldn't notice someone's missing.
7. Happiness - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
This song is more about pain and bidding farewell to Taylor's, once happy together, lover. The most happiness reflected from this song is hanging on the hope that there will be happiness after the "grief".
With the deceptive title, the song delivers a melancholic tone throughout and ending in the saddest last five-note sequence possible, antagonistically singing "there is happiness".
8. Dorothea - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
The eighth track on "Evermore" is far more upbeat than its predecessor track number seven. Probably the most uptempo track on the "sister album", this song reminds me of "Betty". While many speculations have been made to whom this track refers to, my guess reflects more on Taylor speaking to her famous self as they reflect her current superstar status. But with such elusive lyrics, only Taylor knows who is this long gone Dorothea and us mortal souls can only be here left guessing.
9. Coney Island - written by Taylor Swift, William Bowery, Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner
Another featured song, this time with The National (I Need My Girl, 2013), Taylor managed to create a male/female duet with vocalist Matt Berninger. While both voices blend in very well, it gives the impression they are both indirectly mourning each other's loss after what seems to be a breakup. It leaves me wondering what Taylor Swift's connection to Coney Island may be as no known previous habitats to the singer were in this area. Maybe good times were spent in Coney Island, one can only wonder.
10. Ivy - written by Taylor Swift, Aaron Dressner and Jack Antonoff
More cheerful than many songs on Evermore and Folklore, the song plays off a banjo while another crime story is told. Unlike Murder She Wrote, the song tells more of infidelity and "what would he do if he found us out? (...) he's gonna burn this house to the ground".
Again reliving on Swift's statements of many lyrics being written out of pure fiction and inspired by the series and movies she's been watching during quarantine, we're starting to get the idea of Taylor's favourite bingeing genre.
11. Cowboy Like Me - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
Again, the title may be misleading for all listeners expecting a country song. Sort of, but not really. An electric guitar solo gives the song a special sweetness and background vocals are delivered by none other than Mr. Mumford himself, from the Mumford & Sons (I Will Wait, 2012). Maybe the soft harmonica in the end will give the country feeling while the song closes.
12. Long Story Short - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
The drum machine in this song, separates it from the remaining tracks on the album. Reminiscing on the ups and downs since the Kardashian leak in 2016, this song talks about how Taylor has changed her priorities in life and Joe Alwyn's role in the mix.
"No more keepin' score, now I just keep you warm; no more tug of war, now I just know there's more; (...) And my waves meet your shore, ever and evermore", shows how 2020 can be a healing and introspective opportunity for everyone and how priorities were certainly changed for all, while some things don't deserve the amount of drama we give them, because "long story short, I survived".
13. Marjorie - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
A heartwarming tribute to Swift's late grandmother, Marjorie is an upbeat ballad about what should have been said and done because now she was taken away. But the essence of the song is Taylor speaking out thoughts and pieces of wisdom as if whispered to her by her grandmother: "if i didn't know better, I'd think you were still around".
While more of a deep cut, rather than a commercial single, I have this song on repeat.
14. Closure - written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dressner
Although this is a more experimental track, instrumentally, Taylor keeps her vocals in her melodic standard therefore not allowing the song to alienate too far from the album's mood. The piano keeps the synths and distorted drum machine grounded to a sweet melody while lyrically Taylor seems to be renouncing someone's fake sense of closure. The song seems to allude to her feud with producer Scooter Braun, explaining how forgiving and forgetting may be his set of the deal, but she's not adopting it.
Although the song is 3 minutes long, it seems much shorter and at first listen I almost thought it was an interlude.
15. Evermore - written by Taylor Swift, William Bowery and Justin Vernon
Following "Exile" in the previous album, this title track features Bon Iver's characteristic dreamy singing tone giving this song that "ascending up to heaven" feeling to close the album - which makes sense considering the album title synonymizes eternity. The song exudes peacefulness and translates Evermore in both lyrics and harmony while Bon Iver's falsetto helps you float through the process.
The Album as a Whole
This album was released a little over four months after "Folklore" and while I did like the feel of this album, I do feel its predecessor made a better job at cohesiveness. The similarity throughout the entire album is probably due to the presence of Aaron Dressner in almost all the writing process. While there is no bad song, listeners shouldn't expect pop commercial singles to pop out - that was unintentional - and remain as stamps of the dancefloor in years to come.
I do believe Willow has a chance of topping Hot 100, not so much due to its commercial mainstream success, but because hardcore fans will stream it on rotation to ensure their idol gets what she deserves. And because it's Christmas and her only competition will probably be Carey's All I want for Christmas is you.
On the other hand, I am sure this will be another chart topper on the Billboard 200 for Taylor and the swifties because even though there is no individual bop to play on full volume while jumping on the bed to, the album as a whole portrays a reflection on feelings, inner peace and... 2020 I guess. And to be fair, I would dare say that was the intention all along. Nevertheless, more music from Taylor Swift - who's complaining?