• Michael Smyth

folklore

Updated: Jan 8

Surprise! Surprise! In the midst of an isolating worldwide lockdown, one of the world’s most renowned pop sensations has done it again with a masterful and mature work of art that has arguably surpassed all the expectations it did not even know it had. Taylor Swift’s latest album, folklore, is possibly one of the finest contemporary albums released thus far in 2020. This year has transpired as an abnormal experience for all, but Swift has used the time to once again prove her astounding song writing skills to the world. folklore was released on the 24th of July 2020 to rave reviews and commercial acclaim, demonstrating just how far Swift has come since her early country music days.


(Kircher, 2020).


Taylor Swift has unquestionably heightened the mood and hopes of millions with her eighth studio album. She managed to create a beautiful record that somewhat drastically deters from the conventional mainstream radio pop that most of our ears are used to hearing from her, while still staying true to her iconic storytelling and masterful pop lyricism. This album is primarily folk, indie, and singer-songwriter orientated. However, her stripped down sense of style and artistry did not hinder the album’s commercial success amongst her loyal fanbase.


folklore’s release was announced without notice on Swift’s Instagram account, less than 24 hours in before the albums appeared on streaming platforms. Along with the song she also0 released a music video for ‘Cardigan’ and a variety of limited-edition physical copies of the album with unique artwork catered to each edition. folklore “Opened at No. 1 on Billboard’s latest album chart with a whopping 846 000 sales in the United States,” according to Nielsen Music. This statistic highlights the amount of public attention Swift’s new work has received. In addition, all the songs on the album also featured on the Billboard Hot 100.


In the making of this album, Swift worked with a variety of prominent figures in the music industry. Folk legend, Bon Iver, was among the most recognised names who assisted with the album’s creation. He also featured on one of the songs, ‘Exile’, in a very powerful role which made for an astonishing duet between him and Swift. Other key contributors include Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Beth Garrabrant, Laura Sisk, John Low, and Serban Ghenea to name a few.


As mentioned before, folklore, is a complete shift from Swift’s previous album, Lover, although Lover did somewhat act as a prelude to her new indie-folk style with its inclusion of a few tracks orientated towards this genre. This transition illustrates Swift’s full-circle transition back to her original musical roots and her early days as a country musician. The album contains a host of down-tempo ballads with an ‘earthy’ atmosphere, elegant melodies, and highly resonant vocals. And as always, Swift’s masterful lyricism shines through with vivid storytelling and third-person narratives detailing heartbreak and retrospection in an absolutely gorgeous manner. The lyrical content matched perfectly with the album’s content, making for a lot of interesting introspection for the listener. After first listening to the album, it can seem slightly redundant and repetitive, but once closer attention is paid to the details in production and storytelling, the songs’ intriguing melody lines and subtle embellishments differentiate them beautifully, while still uniting the recordings as a coherent work.


But why release an album now? Taylor’s motive for this album wasn’t to make a cash grab, it was to give her fans something that represented her true self during this difficult time. Her musings and experiences are reflected like never before through this wistful and emotional album. Unfortunately, she will not be able to tour the album until Covid-19 restrictions are reduced around the world. Nonetheless, folklore stands out as a truly authentic work among Swift’s highly successful previous works.

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