TAYLOR SWIFT EVERMORE ALBUM REVIEW & ANALYSIS

Just when I thought Taylor Swift couldn't do anymore to save 2020 after her surprise summer release of Folklore, less than 6 months later she released yet another incredible quarantine album! Evermore is the sister album to Folklore and was surprise released hours after it was announced on December 11. I have always loved Taylor's songwriting and how lyrically complex, deeply personal and profound so much of it is. Over the summer I wrote a full review and analysis of Folklore, which not only was my favorite article I have ever written, but also quickly became my most popular as well! I'm very excited to share my review and analysis of Folklore's sister album, Evermore, with you! 

Evermore is made up of 15 songs, largely in collaboration with Aaron Dessner. All of the other artists she worked with on Folklore are also featured on the new album, with a few new additions. As a whole, Evermore is the perfect continuation of what was started on Folklore - there are many parallels between the two that I noticed and all of the loose ends from Folklore were tied up by the end of this album. The more I listened to both of these albums together, the more I realized that both of the track listings are also aligned in a really interesting way.

It was so exciting to hear that she was releasing her second album of 2020, especially after how impactful Folklore was this year. As I mentioned in my Folklore review & analysis, I love the way she is releasing music with so much more spontaneity than ever before, but I would have never expected back-to-back releases less than five months apart! In the album's liner notes, she explained how a sequel to Folklore came about: "To put it plainly, we just couldn't stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, 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..." 

She continued by saying, "I've never done this before. In the past I've always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with Folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales. I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them."

Just like Taylor did with Folklore, many of the songs aren't directly about her life, but are more so written from the perspective of or about fictional characters that may in some way correlate to her life, some being more abstract than others. This new songwriting approach she has taken with the music released this year is hopefully the path she continues to take with her work in the future. It's a fresh style of music for her that I think re-established her as an artist and a songwriter.

When I first listened to this album, I didn't feel the same immediate connection with it in the way I did with Folklore when it was released. But as I'll go more into detail about later in my review, Evermore really grew on me the more I listened to it and has quickly become one of my all-time favorite albums from Taylor. The more I listen to both, the more I realize that one isn't necessarily better than the other because they are so intertwined and connected in so many ways. Evermore is the album that I never knew I needed, but that I'm so happy exists. It was the perfect album release to close out 2020. 

"Willow" is the first song on Evermore, as well as the lead single for the album. It's a light and beautiful introduction to this new album, while also continuing with the themes of where she left off with Folklore. One of my favorite lyrics from the entire album is, "Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind", which is a motif that she has been writing about a lot throughout her past three albums. The music video also premiered alongside the album's release, which did a great job at bringing this song to life in a really special way. The video has many references to Folklore, starting off where the "Cardigan" music video ended. In the "Willow" video, she goes back inside the magical piano while following a single thread of gold, which is referencing one of my favorite lyrics from "Invisible String". She follows the string all throughout different seasons of her life, represented by actual weather changes in each scene. Metaphorically, the imagery is very powerful and representative of her real-life experiences in such a deep way. 

The second song on the album is one of the absolute best songs of her career, in my opinion. "Champagne Problems" is on the same level of some of the quintessential songs from her discography. The first comparable song that comes to mind is the iconic fan favorite "All Too Well", but also reminds me of my favorite from Folklore, "Cardigan".

The opening piano notes are very reminiscent of her song "New Years Day", which I definitely think was intentional on her part, since the song also takes place around the holidays. In the album's liner notes, Taylor said this song is about "...longtime college sweethearts who had very different plans for the same night, one to end it and one who brought a ring.” It is written from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend proposed to her right before Christmas, but she declined without giving a reason. This song follows the aftermath of the failed marriage proposal, from his initial reaction, their families reaction, the town's gossip about what went wrong, and ending it with telling him that "You'll find the real thing instead, she'll patch up the tapestry that I shred". 

This song was co-written by William Bowery, who was the mysterious feature on two songs from Folklore, "Exile" and "Betty". Taylor confirmed in her recent Disney+ documentary that William Bowery is actually her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. He is also the co-writer of two other incredible songs from Evermore, "Coney Island" and the title track "Evermore". I love the way the songs they collaborated on so many standout songs throughout both of these albums!

"Champagne Problems" is a lyrical masterpiece, and has so many powerful and simultaneously heartbreaking lines that stand out to me whenever I hear it. Just like many of the storylines on Folklore, this fictional couple's story continues in a few other songs on Evermore as well (namely "Tis The Damn Season" and "Dorthea", which I'll talk about later!) This is the first of many storylines she introduced in this album, which is something I love so much about her songwriting. The bridge and the closing verse is just so incredible too, but anything I say about it can't do it the justice it deserves, so if you haven't already I highly recommend listening to this song!

The third track is another one of my favorites! "Gold Rush" is about getting lost in a daydream about someone and snapping out of it before it goes too deep because "it will never be". This song was co-written and produced by Jack Antonoff, who is one of her frequent collaborators and has featured on the majority of my all-time favorite songs from Taylor (and many of my other favorite artists). Jack's band, Bleachers, is also featured on this song, as well - which adds such such a cool element to it sonically.

"Gold Rush" to Evermore is what songs like "Mirrorball" and "August" are to Folklore, all three of those songs are so beautiful and stand out to me instantly as some of the dreamiest and catchiest songs on their respective albums. 

A lyric from this song that ties both of the albums together is "My mind turns your life into folklore, I can't even dare to dream about you anymore" - because so much of both Folklore and Evermore are made up of Taylor creating these elaborate stories about fictional people out of what most of the time started as a daydream. I really love that line from "Gold Rush" and what it represents to this pair of albums.

"Tis The Damn Season" follows the same couple from "Champagne Problems", this time the story takes place a few years after their breakup when the woman returns to her hometown for the holidays after moving to Los Angeles. She is trying to rekindle her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and is reflecting on what went wrong and how "the holidays linger like bad perfume". She keeps thinking about what could have been if she stayed as Taylor sings in the lyric, "And the road not taken looks real good right now, and it always leads to you in my hometown". 

The lyric, "So I'll go back to L.A. and the so-called friends who will write books about me if I ever make it, and wonder about the only soul who knows which smiles I'm faking" makes me think that not only is this song connected to "Champagne Problems", but also track eight, "Dorthea" as well, since it's also about a girl who left her hometown to move to Hollywood to become famous. I actually didn't initially realize the connection between all three of these songs during my first few listens to the album since the lyrical clues are so subtle but ties everything together in such an intricate way. 

Track five is called "Tolerate It", which has grown on me so much since the first time I listened to it. The bridge and the second verse are especially so beautifully written and simultaneously so heartbreaking (naturally as all of the best verses from Taylor Swift are) - but my favorite line from this song is, "I made you my temple, my mural, my sky, now I'm begging for footnotes in the story of your life."

In an interview with Zane Lowe, she talked about the inspiration behind this song, noting that the concept of it was based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier titled Rebecca, and the relationship between the title character and her husband. In the interview she said, "When I was reading Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and I was thinking, ‘Wow, her husband just tolerates her. She’s doing all these things and she’s trying so hard and she’s trying to impress him, and he’s just tolerating her the whole time. There was a part of me that was relating to that, because at some point in my life, I felt that way."

Ever since the first time I listened to this album, "No Body No Crime" was instantly one of my absolute favorite songs from not only Evermore, but also from her entire discography. She returns to her country music roots with this song, but in such a fresh and exciting way. The best way to describe this song is as a reimagination of Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" with a deadly twist. "No Body No Crime" is featuring backing vocals from the band Haim, who are also her close friends. Haim's bassist, Este Haim, is the central character of the song, which revolves around a murder mystery. 

The song starts off with Este suspecting that her husband is cheating on her and saying, "I think he did it, but I just can't prove it". Soon after, Este disappears and her husband's new girlfriend moves into their house, leaving Taylor to believe that he killed Este. She says, "I think he did it but I just can't prove it, no body, no crime, but I ain't letting up until the day I die", vowing to seek revenge against her friend's cheating and potentially murderous husband. As Taylor told us back in 2010, you know that there's nothing she does better than revenge! The song has a twist ending, where Taylor actually kills Este's husband and covers up the scene to make the town believe that his new girlfriend actually killed him. She sings, "They think she did it but they just can't prove it", and changes to, "She thinks I did it but she just can't prove it, no body, no crime, but I wasn't letting up until the day he died". 

The story told in this song is definitely quite a rollercoaster to listen to and is full of so many twists and turns in just three and a half minutes. This song was obviously inspired by Taylor's love of mystery and true crime stories, which she talked about in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Working with the Haim sisters on 'No Body, No Crime’ was pretty hilarious because it came about after I wrote a pretty dark murder mystery song and had named the character Este, because she’s the friend I have who would be stoked to be in a song like that.”

Obviously a dark and murderous song like this isn't what I would expect Taylor to write, but I think that's what makes it so special. I also would never expect her to sing about Olive Garden either, but that's just another aspect of this song that I love so much. The detailed storytelling aspect reminds me of her song "The Last Great American Dynasty", which is written in such a specific way that the listener can fully visualize the story she's telling- it kind of feels like it was written a movie in song form. 

The next song is called "Happiness", which is quite a deceiving title because it is actually one of the saddest songs on the album! Taylor revealed that this was actually the last song that she wrote for the album, finishing it just a week before it's release. It's about trying to move on from a relationship, while acknowledging happiness that came along with it, as well as looking forward to the happiness that will come after. It's a simple and beautiful ballad that has grown on me a lot since I first heard it. 

"Dorthea" is the eighth song on the album and as I mentioned earlier, is the continues the story of the characters from "Champagne Problems" and "Tis The Damn Season". This time, it's written years after where "Tis The Damn Season" left off, but now from the perspective of her ex-boyfriend from her hometown. Dorthea is now the celebrity she always wished she would become. It's a very cute song that is full of sweet and nostalgic lyrics, reminiscing on the way life was before she moved away. The way this song is written from a male perspective reminds me of her song "Betty" too, which is an interesting point of view she has been writing from lately. The storyline of Dorthea and her ex-boyfriend is pretty much wrapped up on this album after this song, but I was thinking that the final conclusion to this trilogy of songs could be "The Lucky One" from her 2012 album Red. "The Lucky One" is about the life of a Hollywood starlet who had all of her dreams come true, but decided to leave it all when she was older because she realized it isn't what truly makes her happy. Maybe Dorthea was the lucky one after all? 

The ninth song from Evermore, "Coney Island" is one of my favorites and is so underrated in comparison to the rest of her album. It also features vocals from Matt Berninger of The National. I love the conversational lyricism that Taylor and Matt have in the latter part of this song, it's reminiscent of the structure of "Exile" from Folklore with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The lyrics are very melancholic and nostalgic, with both Taylor and Matt taking responsibility for what went wrong in their relationship. She incorporated references to a few of her older songs written about past relationships at the end, namely "The Moment I Knew", "Dear John", and "Out Of The Woods". I love the way this song is about reflecting on past experiences with a different mindset years after it happened, but now with a different frame of mind. The line, "Will you forgive my soul when you're too wise to trust me and too old to care?" is very telling of that sentiment.

The tenth track, "Ivy" is another favorite of mine and is everything that I wanted the song "Illicit Affairs" to be. Out of every song on Folklore, I just never gravitated towards that song at all. "Ivy" has more lyrical complexity and articulacy and just overall is a better song. It was also written in collaboration between Taylor, Aaron Dessner, and Jack Antonoff. Both Aaron and Jack played a big part in the making of these two albums, but this is the only song all three of them wrote as a trio - it's definitely something I would love to see more of in the future!

"Cowboy Like Me" is another song that has grown on me so much since I first listened to the album, and has since become one of my top favorites. Just like "No Body, No Crime", she is paying homage to her country music roots in this song about two bandits that fall in love, saying that "forever is the sweetest con". The song also features backing vocals from Marcus Mumford, lead-singer of Mumford & Sons, who adds a beautiful element to the overall production of the song. 

"Long Story Short" is the most true-pop song from both Folklore and Evermore, and sounds very reminiscent of a song that would have been on her 2019 album Lover (it would have worked perfectly for the opening track of that album!) It's a fast-paced overview of everything that happened in her life since 2016 when she wasn't seen publicly for a while. She sings, "And I fell from the pedestal, right down the rabbit hole, long story short it was a bad time". This song carries a very different tone than many of the songs she released around that time of Reputation, and is now showing true growth and no animosity towards the people involved in that drama. Towards the end she shares a message to her past self, "past me, I wanna tell you not to get lost in these petty things, your nemeses will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing," and goes on to say that in the midst of everything, she was able to find true love with the line, "and my waves meet your shores, ever and evermore". 

I love this song and the closure it gives to her for that time in her life. Just like "Coney Island", she is revisiting past experiences in this song but is now removed from the situation with a more mature mindset. The ending line of the song is simple, but so impactful; "Long story short it was a bad time, long story short I survived".

The thirteenth song, "Marjorie", is a tribute to Taylor's late grandmother, Marjorie Finlay. This is such an incredible song and one of the most personal Taylor has ever released. Marjorie was an opera singer and was one of Taylor's inspirations to pursue music at a young age, but she passed away when Taylor was 13, right before her career took off. Towards the end of the song, her vocals are even featured in the background, as Taylor sings, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were singing to me now".

As I mentioned earlier, there are many parallels between the track listings of Folklore and Evermore, but the thirteenth track on both is the most significant of them all. The thirteenth song from Folklore is "Epiphany", which was written as a tribute to her late grandfather and the nurses who saved him during World War II, as well as a tribute to the modern-day nurses who have been saving people everyday throughout the pandemic. Not only do I think "Marjorie" is a tribute to her late grandmother, but I also think this song is meant as a tribute to anyone who has lost a loved one as a reminder that those we love never truly leave us. It's a very powerful song that many will be able to connect with, especially after such a difficult year. Taylor sings, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were still around," and in the closing lines says, "I know better, but you're still around". 

If you want to find out more about Marjorie, I recommend checking out the song's lyric video, which is a beautiful visual tribute to her, her art and her family. I also recommend checking out Rob Sheffield's article for Rolling Stone that does an amazing job at explaining the depth of this song at length.

The second-to-last song on the album is called "Closure", and honestly this is the only song that I don't like at all from this album. I like the lyrics, but the production just sounds so chaotic and doesn't really fit the rest of the album at all. It kind of reminds me of the production style that The 1975 used on their most recent album, the first song that comes to mind is "Frail State of Mind" - even though I think they missed the mark with parts of the production for that album release too. 

The album's title track, "Evermore", is the perfect conclusion to the pair of albums she released this year. I always thought that "Hoax", Folkore's closer, felt very inconclusive and open-ended in a way that her previous albums aren't. She usually ends her albums with a song that feels uplifting in some way, but "Hoax" felt melancholy in comparison. But with "Evermore", she ties both of these albums together so beautifully. It is featuring Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on vocals, who she collaborated with heavily throughout this album, as well as for "Exile" on Folklore.

It starts off with a similar melancholy tone that "Hoax" has by singing, "I had a feeling so peculiar, that this pain would be for evermore". The song picks up when Justin Vernon's vocals come in and shifts the tone. His verse adds a very special element to this song that beautifully demonstrates the overwhelming feeling of hope and the ability to overcome hardship. 

The closing verse is a reflection on the journey taken through not only this song, but also sums up the underlying message of both of the albums - she sings, "And I was catching my breath, floors of a cabin creating under my step, and I couldn't be sure, I had a feeling so peculiar, this pain wouldn't be for evermore". 

There were some rumors of there being a possible third album coming at some point in 2021 (which I would love), but even if there isn't any truth to it, I think the song "Evermore" is the perfect conclusion to the Folklore universe. Both Folklore and Evermore have been so influential in terms of how many connected with these songs and were able to escape reality within in these stories. In such a difficult year for all of us, both of these albums couldn't have come at a better time. Taylor has released so many incredible albums throughout her career, but with both Folklore and Evermore, she did the unexpected and ended up making her best work yet. After being a huge fan of Taylor for well over a decade at this point, I have always looked forward to her new releases, but now more than ever I am so excited to see what the next chapter brings for her.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts on Evermore in the comment section below! I would also love for you to read my review of Folklore if you haven't already! If you're interested in reading more music reviews, be sure to come back soon for my list of my favorite albums of the year! Since this is my last post of 2020, I want to thank you for all of your support this year and I hope 2021 is amazing for you! Happy New Year! ♡

-Melissa ♡


Photo Credit: Taylor Swift & Beth Garrabrant


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