Review: Swift surprises with ‘Folklore’
Four out of Five Stars
By Maddy Warren
Editor In Chief
Taylor Swift announced the surprise release of her eighth studio album, “Folklore,” one day before it dropped July 24 at midnight.
This unexpected announcement came as a shock to fans. Social media was buzzing with anticipation after seeing the initial Instagram and Twitter posts announcing the album. Her posts included pictures from the Folklore photoshoot, the track list, and music video sneak peeks.
“Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening,” Swift said in a July 23 Instagram post. “But there is something I hadn’t planned that DID happen. And that thing is my eighth studio album, Folklore.”
Along with “Folklore,” Swift dropped a music video at midnight for the album’s second track, “Cardigan.” The self-directed video was created (as she mentions at the video’s conclusion), with social distancing in mind. It gives off fairytale, almost “Alice in Wonderland,” vibes.
One of the most notable parts of the video is the moment Swift lifts the lid of her piano and climbs in, entering another world.
“Folklore” has 16 tracks, including one bonus titled “The Lakes.”
A song called “The 1” kicks off the album with a soft, simple piano and drum beat. Swift reflects on a past love, a “what could have been” moment. “The 1” is followed by the album’s first single, “Cardigan.”
“Exile” is the only collaboration on the album. It is the fourth track on the album and it features indie-folk band, Bon Iver.
“Exile” is one of saddest songs on “Folklore,” as it illustrates a story of failed love. Swift sings the vulnerable and heartfelt verses with her low register before a switch to a floaty delicate head voice for the chorus. The style of songwriting nods to her earlier albums, specifically “Red.”
“August” is track number eight and channels “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia and the ‘90s indie sound as a whole. It is also one of the “poppiest” sounding tracks on the album.
“Epiphany,” which is track 13, is a magnificent piano ballad that tugs at the heartstrings from the first note. The choral- and gospel-like harmonies will leave listeners with goosebumps.
The first thing listeners will hear in track 14, titled “Betty,” is the piercing sound of a harmonica. “Betty” is a nod to Swift’s country days and its sound reflects that of “Fearless” and “Speak Now.” There is one particular lyric that references a “cardigan” and the album’s first single. Oh, and the key change is spectacular.
Any long-time Swift fan (myself included) will tell you this is yet again another side of her they have never heard before.
Swift has a history of releasing albums that are drastically different from her previous one.
“Folklore: is to “Lover” as “1989” was to “Red”; and “Reputation” was to “1989” as “Lover” was to “Reputation” – all completely different sounds.
As a tweet from @redputationaotd put it, “Taylor Swift is finally making ‘that indie record that’s much cooler than mine.’” This is, of course, a reference to her 2012 song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Swifties and anyone else interested in streaming “the princess of pop’s” latest album, can do so on Spotify, iTunes or YouTube.