Taylor Swift once lamented “We do exist in this society where women in entertainment are discarded in an elephant graveyard at 35. Everyone is a shiny new toy for like two years. The female artists have reinvented themselves 20 times more than the male artists. They have to or else you’re out of a job. Constantly having to reinvent, constantly finding new facets of yourself that people find to be shiny.”
Folklore, her eighth studio album is an entirely new facet of the singer. She dropped the album less than 24 hrs after telling her fans about it.
Surprise 🤗 Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my 8th studio album, folklore; an entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. Pre-order at https://t.co/zSHpnhUlLb pic.twitter.com/4ZVGy4l23b
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 23, 2020
How welcome is Swift’s reinvention?
Her reinvention in the past, in the glossy Reputation and the lovelorn Lover have felt purposeful. In the former, she adopted the persona of pop’s Mean Girl and in the latter found solace in harkening back to the love songs that were her claim to fame to begin with. With Folklore, her riskiest and most brazen album to date, there’s nothing calculated about her music.
This is an album that a lot of her own fan base could easily reject. Gone are the catchy pop anthems or country break up songs. Instead Swift fills her album with sixteen tracks that all seem to lean closer to alternative and acoustic indie fare. The result is simply spellbinding and Swift’s magnum opus.
Amazingly, her album is intentionally less radio friendly than even sadcore princess Lana Del Rey’s most recent work, the Grammy nominated Norman F****** Rockwell. Yet that’s not the point of Folklore.
Folklore is the antithesis of the kinds of pop records being made. Transformative, emotive and above all poetic, Swift finally lets her inner writer run wild. Accompanied by plush piano chords, guitar strings and violins, the album allows Swift to conjure up an entire town full of fictional characters. On her Twitter page, she disclosed a primer about the album:
In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down. folklore is out now: https://t.co/xdcEDfithq
📷: Beth Garrabrant pic.twitter.com/vSDo9Se0fp
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 24, 2020
Tracks like Cardigen, Betty and Illict Affairs revolve around a trio of fictional teenagers with each song from their perspective. Mad Woman is the account of a widow who ruefully scorns the world for making her mad in the first place.
Aside from the fictional imagery woven in, there is plenty Swift has masterfully pulled from real life. Epiphany recounts the moment her grandfather died fighting while Invisible Strings ponders over her relationship with actor Joe Alwyn. The Last Great American Dynasty tells the history of the former house owners who lived where she lives.
From the plethora of 5 star reviews quickly popping up all over the internet, Folklore is easily Taylor’s best album critically. To say she deserves any less would be a lie given the quality of music. Taylor’s past two albums, the aforementioned Reputation and Lover, have both been sloppy.
With Folklore, the thirty-year-old country singer turned pop star and now Indie folk artist, Swift demonstrates her versatility like never before. The production is sublime and Swift’s penchant for descriptive storytelling is as sharp as ever, but this time those stories are darker, coarse and more complicated.
There’s little of the meet-cute romantic songstress that made Taylor Swift a household name in Folklore, and that is the album’s greatest strength.
The album and the artist have been in discussion since she announced the project yesterday, trending with almost two million tweets.
The music video for the first single Cardigen was also released with the release of the album. Within just the span of a day, the strong critical acclaim for the album has made it a front-runner at the Grammys for Album Of The Year