Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album was announced only 12 hours before its release on July 24th, taking people all over the internet by surprise. The singer was supposed to be touring music from her last album “Lover” this summer, however, due to COVID-19, she was not able to do so. Evidently, she took full advantage of the time at home, working hard to create her newest album, “folklore.”
Now on her eighth studio album, Swift has long since established her preferred music style as pop-inspired. Over the years, this is what the public has grown accustomed to hearing from her. Needless to say, it came as a bit of a shock that she had chosen to make a shift from that style. Falling back on her country roots, most of the songs on this album have a folky sound. Coming off of the high praise from her last album, this change in sound might come off a bit abrupt or odd. However, Swift enters this new era with so much grace and innovative artistry that it is almost impossible to question it.
The album’s first single was “cardigan,” a beautiful song highlighting a relationship that didn’t work despite strong efforts. This song, along with “august” and “betty,” gained quick attention from fans for their suspected connection. The theory goes that hidden within the album is a “teenage love triangle.” Each of the songs takes the point of view of a different character, a risk that might not have worked if Swift’s talent for pushing the boundaries of songwriting wasn’t so remarkable.
Throughout the album we see her move away from the traditional form of the first-person writing, a technique which adds another layer of depth to the album that might not have been there otherwise. Each song adds to the album’s overall plot and allure, coming together like chapters in an old book. They hold their place in time, while seamlessly coming together to tell her story. Some of my favorites from the album are “mirrorball” and “this is me trying,” for precisely that reason–they tell us her story.
Swift has always been a natural storyteller, someone who effortlessly brings her memories and dreams to life through song. Over the course of her many years in the industry she has grown and adapted in a million ways, and we get to see that growth for ourselves in this album. Her ability to take risks with her style and pull it off is a testament to that like no other. Swift has been maturing in her music for years now, slowly growing up before our eyes, but it is in this album that we can see that maturity without a veil. She shed that layer of defense in the name of art, and what a beautiful thing that is.
For me, these songs feel like reliving a faded dream. It doesn’t matter if that dream is fantasy or memory, nothing could make it less real. Her ability to make her listeners believe what she is saying is her power. Her ability to capture her humanity in words is why the album resonates so deeply with people. Swift used this power to give us her version of a storybook, one filled with fantasy and memory alike. The end of the album marks the end of this story, or perhaps the end of another chapter, leaving the possibilities endless for what is to come.