Album Review: folklore by Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift is an American singer and songwriter. With several albums under her belt and an expansive career for nearly 20 years, she releases her eighth studio album, folklore. folklore was actually a surprise album where she announced the album less than 24 hours of its release. I wasn’t too big on her previous album, Lover, so I had mixed feelings about her next album. However, after listening to folklore and hearing the positive reviews, it definitely makes me think this is Taylor Swift’s best album yet.

The first track from the album is the 1. The first thing that you notice is that it is stripped back quite a bit in instrumentation. You have a piano as well as some electronic percussive beats. Taylor Swift’s vocals are very playful in nature on this track, especially with the ‘swooping’ during the chorus. She reminisces about past relationships and how things might be today if that person would still be a part of her life.

cardigan has definitely been an interesting track that a lot of her fans and music fans have been talking about. Instrumentally, it’s the same, so there isn’t too much else incorporated. The track is just layered a bit better so it sounds more ‘full’. On this track, Taylor talks about young love and how it feels so special to many people. She’s reminiscing about an old relationship, the good as well as the bad things that had happened.

the last great american dynasty is another track produced by Aaron Dessner. This is definitely more upbeat and faster in tempo compared to her past two tracks. Starting off the track, Taylor talks about and compares herself to Rebekah Harkness. While Rebekah had fame and a fancy lifestyle, she also faced criticism from others. Just like Taylor, even though she has garnered fame, she has faced criticism from press and music critics.

exile is definitely one of my favorite tracks from this album, especially since it features Bon Iver. The track starts off a little bit different, and we get to experience Bon Iver’s lower singing register which is a rare thing for us to hear. This track is about two exes seeing each other after the relationship has ended and how both of them have different feelings of how they are in life now. The duet between the two at the end is so just hauntingly beautiful, while quite depressing at the same time. If there’s any song to be ugly crying to on the album, it’s this song.

After that tear wrenching track, we come to my tears ricochet. The tone of the album changes a bit now that Jack Antonoff offers his creative ability. The almost electronic, autotune from Taylor’s voice in the chorus is so hypnotic and entrancing. Honestly, it reminds me of Hide and Seek from Imogen Heap, except with the right amount of autotune. I am glad that the instrumentals changed up a bit to give us more of a variety.

mirrorball brings us some more strings from Jack Antonoff. The harmonies from Taylor mix pretty well during the chorus, while she has her higher and lower register. I wonder if she meant to have someone else featured on this track, but wasn’t able to get that person. The only thing that I can gather is that a mirrorball is supposed to represent a disco ball since it has several tiny reflective pieces. She mentions that she would act the same way as the person looking at them, to show them their flaws.

seven seems a bit more peaceful and serene in nature compared to the previous tracks. The piano layered with the strings just adds that much more meaning to it. While still sticking to pop, there is a tinge of folk mixed into here. On this track, Taylor looks back at her childhood and thinks about one of her friends. She realized that she wasn’t always happy when she was home and that it stemmed from her father.

A little bit more symbolism, the eighth track (eighth month) for the album is august. This is another track produced by none other than Jack Antonoff, which you can easily tell by the instrumentals and tone of the track. There’s a theory from fans about a hidden message in here that has to do with the “Teenage Love Triangle” that involves this track, as well as cardigan and betty. Taylor mentions that this album is inspired by the month of August and the warm, sunny weather that comes with it.

this is me trying opens up with some synth and electronic like instruments backing the track. Even with the polished and glossy vocals, you can really hear the emotion in her voice during the chorus. One thing that I don’t really appreciate during the first chorus is the lack of instrumentation for the first time. This is supposed to be the high point of the track, which they eventually do fix for the second time around for the chorus.

Hearing the beginning of illicit affairs reminds me of some of Taylor’s earlier works before she switched to pop music. She incorporates the use of guitars, and her vocals sound eerily similar to some of those tracks. Based on the title of the track, you can probably guess that the topic of the track is about infidelity. The beginning of the track talks about hiding from the world and making sure no one will see you.

invisible string brings us back to the folk pop sound that we have heard quite a few times on this album. Despite the syllables sung towards the end of the chorus, it does make the track seem more playful and fun in nature. One thing that I enjoyed, and surprised that I actually got the reference was in the second verse. She references her song Bad Blood from her 1989 album, then goes on and mentions the lakes which is supposed to be the final, bonus track on folklore. It basically represents her transformation from then to now, even thoughher 1989 album was only six years ago.

Based on the instrumentation for mad woman, I didn’t have to look to see that this was produced by Aaron Dessner. Nothing wrong with him by any means, but you can definitely tell the differences between him and Jack Antonoff. According to Taylor Swift, she mentions that this track is about a woman getting revenge on the people who didn’t believe in her. This could also be a follow up to the track, the last great american dynasty.

epiphany opens up with the droning sound of strings. Another thing a lot of people are talking about are the vocals during the song, especially with the harmonies sung by her. There are a lot of theories about what this track could be referencing. The first verse seems to talk about the effects of PTSD, while some of the other verses could be talking about the current events going on with the current pandemic.

betty starts out with your regular acoustic guitars, as well as a harmonica. This marks the last part of the “Teenage Love Triangle,” as well as the longest track of the album, just a little under five minutes in length. On this track, Taylor takes it from a different stance, as the viewpoint of the guy who was with Betty. The relationship had already ended, but he is trying to make it up to her since he misses her a lot. The key change towards the end really adds to the emotion and story that has been shown through these three tracks.

peace is another track that starts out pretty quiet. You got an acoustic guitar with some backing synth notes and the vocals don’t come in for nearly a minute. Even during the chorus, nothing really shines through, it just feels like it is another verse on the track. This is a maturing track for Taylor Swift and her view of love has definitely changed. She also notes that she’s a fire, while he is the ocean, which shows the differences between the two. However, despite their differences, they are able to work things out.

The last track from the album is hoax. Taylor comes in with her vocals when the piano comes in at the beginning. At first, I honestly didn’t think that this track would grow on me, but it’s definitely a decent closer, while still being another quiet track. It’s almost haunting in nature, especially with the vocal harmonies during the chorus. This is talking about a past lover who ended up lying to her. Taylor believed in him, even though he never really meant the things he told her.

Overall Rating: 9/10
Favorite Tracks: cardigan, the last great american dynasty, exile, seven, this is me trying, invisible string, hoax

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