Hattie Metcalfe reviews Taylor Swift’s latest offering...
I’ve gone from hardly being interested in Taylor Swift, to writing two articles about her within the space of a few months. Is that what we call growth? I think so. After the shock announcement of her eight album Folklore back in July, the singer-songwriter still had more to give. Seemingly out of nowhere, Evermore was announced as the sister/sequel album to Folklore. And unlike the fair majority of sequels, it only got better.
Where Folklore opened with the power of “I’m doing good, I’m on some new shit” – a nudge to anyone that ever undermined her – Evermore opens with “willow”, a catchy, folk-inspired tune that might seem breezy and innocent, but there’s a definite power behind it. “I come back stronger than a 90s trend” being a personal favourite line of mine (and something I too would like to be able to do). If she hadn’t already set the tone for Evermore already with Folklore, this is an album of stories, perhaps even more so than its predecessor. Some perhaps more relatable than others; the temporary relationships and flings of “’tis the damn season'” and the realisation that there is life beyond even the most meaningful of relationships ending in “happiness.” And then, ah yes – there’s that song about murder.
I mean, I was always going to mention it at some point. It’s a bop!
“no body, no crime” is quite possibly one of the best tracks from Evermore. Featuring the smooth harmonies and guitar skills of band HAIM, Swift sings about the murder of a cheating husband. Where Dolly Parton pleaded for Jolene not to take her man, Swift and co take matters into their own hands. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging murder! But there’s something incredibly empowering about “no body, no crime” – and not just the revenge side of things. It’s the song that feels reminiscent of the original Taylor Swift, all the way back to albums like 2006’s self-titled Taylor Swift and 2010’s Speak Now. After a turbulent and busy year for Swift, it sounds empowering for her to return to her first love of country music… albeit with that dark twist of course.
So the majority of Folklore might have made up my 2020 Spotify Wrapped (to be completely transparent; I was in the top 2% of Taylor Swift fans. Whoops?) – but Evermore is the album that I’m taking into 2021. Although I absolutely adored Folklore, there’s just something about the progression between these albums that clicked with me. This isn’t full of tracks about bad break-ups and crushes. It’s about empowerment and realising self-worth. Even though tracks such as “coney island” (featuring the National) might at first seem like they’re full of some sort of depressing melancholy, there’s empowerment in realising where each side went wrong as the pair sing “sorry for not making you my centrefold.” The concept of the break-up song has shifted dramatically – perhaps most notably in “closure” where Swift asks not to be “treated like some situation that needs to be handled. I’m fine with my spite, my tears, and my beers and my candles, I can feel you smoothing you over.” It’s a welcome change to the stereotyped ‘please take me back’ kind of song.
To me, “closure” is a final letter to 2020. It says I have nothing left to give you – whilst rejecting all those who said we had to ‘become’ something or someone during a global pandemic. If you’re surviving right now, that’s good enough.
Through all these lockdowns and tiers and regulations, many of us have found solace and escapism in art. Whether it’s films, television, books or music – the storytelling artistry of Evermore is something still wholly necessary going into 2021. I spent most of last year feeling like I was living in black and white. The days were monotonous, there was no colour to them. Despite any attempts to shake-up my routine, there was an innate sense of ‘but this still isn’t normal‘. Like a lot of us, I felt lost. So when Evermore was announced, with its bright colour palette in comparison to the black and white of Folklore, I was in love with it before I’d heard the music. With Swift’s back to the camera (and wearing an amazing coat that I’d happily take three of), it appears as though she’s looking into the future. Looking beyond the dreariness of 2020, and ahead to the next year. But even that doesn’t look as bright as we might want it too. I’m working on this piece as I hear England is in lockdown again, and the months ahead look daunting and unknown. I turn twenty next month, and have already accepted that I won’t be falling down any more stairs in a pub like last year. Not to go all Frozen 2 on you, but I can’t help but feel like we’re heading into the unknown. I, for one, know an album like Evermore is going to be an indispensable asset to me personally getting through all, well, gestures to the absolute shit-show, this.
In the closing track, “evermore”, Taylor Swift and Bon Iver remind us that this pain won’t be “for evermore”. We’ll get through this. And that’s a message I think a lot of us could do with bringing into the new year.
You can buy Evermore HERE
You can read Hattie’s take on cinema HERE