Folklore – Taylor Swift
Written by Sydney Davis on October 25, 2021
Written By: Sydney Davis
Taylor Swift apparently has been all work, and no play by releasing 2 new albums in 2020 and two re-releases this year. With this newfound knowledge, I have now realized that I lived under a rock, because how did I miss this? Well now I’m in the know, and I started by listening to Folklore. Folklore was a product of Swift’s time spent in quarantine and was released on July 24, 2020. This was a surprise to many since she just released her album Lover in August of 2019.
The overall somewhat acoustic sound of the album was much different as opposed to her recent more upbeat pop style albums. The title of the album was such a good choice because, I would describe the genre of this album as indie folk. I will be the first to admit I am not familiar with Swift’s entire discography besides about two other albums, and I will say this was a pleasant surprise. I was used to the “Shake It Off” Taylor Swift, not the more subtle side of her. Through my first listen, I felt like the production was very raw and simple, sometimes only a guitar, or others only a piano. Even when songs had a mix of instruments layered behind Swift’s voice it was not to overpowering.
I did not know what to expect going into this album but as I kept listening, I found myself somewhat expecting a random pop song, but it never came. I tend to research the album during/after I listen, so I had no idea that was the initial point of the album (yes, I know once again, I live under the rock). Once, I learned the overall theme of the album it all started to open my mind, and relisten to what she was saying not just the peaceful melodies. Swift referred to the album as “wistful and full of escapism. Sad, beautiful, tragic. Like a photo album full of imagery, and all the stories behind that imagery”. Swift did this by encompassing themes of escapism, empathy, romanticism, and nostalgia within her songs.
Kicking off the album with “the 1” Swift immediately brings the theme of nostalgia to the forefront with thoughts of the what ifs in love, and how her past relationship would have looked if they worked out. The next track “cardigan” also provides listeners with a sense of nostalgia, but also a story full of imagery. As Swift sings you can literally imagine a whole story playing out in your head from her details. The songs “august” and “betty” continue this story line of a “Teenage Love Affair” as Swift has called it. throughout those songs you get a continued plot of how James and Betty’s relationship plays out dealing with James’s cheating scandal and trying to mend the broken pieces of their relationship. Two other songs that also hold a similar connection in plot are “the last great american dynasty” and “mad woman” which seem to follow the parallels between Rebekah Harkness and Swift herself. Both songs touch on balancing their personal life and being a celebrity under media and scrutiny daily.
There are so many narratives to dissect within the album as well as in the music videos as well. I really enjoyed that Swift stuck with the idea of folk tales and telling stories. The album felt very whimsical, almost straight out of a creative writing class. I hope Swift continues to explore her writing style and storytelling side within her music, even if it’s not always about her own life like she did here.
Favorite Song: “august”