For the duration of her genre-shapeshifting career, Taylor Swift has adhered to a strict 2-year album release cycle. Her latest, folklore, is the first to break that regiment. Announced one day and released the very next, the quick turnaround seemed appropriate for a world that has been thrown into an unknown and daunting alternate reality.
In an post on Instagram Swift wrote, “Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.” The isolation of lockdown has provided the chance for many to reevaluate their priorities and explore creative outlets undisturbed by the distractions of ordinary life. Like everyone else, Swift was not immune from this lifestyle readjustment, and with this release it seems clear that she was able to take a step back and bask in the privacy, and it has resulted in a career-crowning achievement.
folklore bathes itself in this newfound peace, boasting 16 delicate and haunting tracks that force a reconsideration of Swift. While the country-turned-pop star is not a stranger to genre-redefining albums, none have done it so gently and seamlessly as her 8th effort. Its timely release offers listeners a comfort blanket of delicate indie-folk with a light lace trim of Swift’s landmark pop. Opening track ‘the 1’ sets the scene for the album with a soft blend of genre. It’s a reintroduction to Swift as a more mature artist, one who has completed her evolution from a young country-pop starlet into a self-assured singer-songwriter.
Swift’s collaborations on the album are equally as unconventional. Aaron Dessner from indie band The National produced, calling the album ‘magical’, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon appears on the spectral ‘exile.’ Their influences are evident throughout the album, especially discernible on the tracks ‘cardigan’, ‘peace’, and in particular ‘seven’ which is a standout example of Swift’s embrace of American folk that makes you dream of a hike in the woods and the calm of a cabin porch.
folklore overwhelmingly exceeds expectations and redefines its creator. It’s the sort of album that should be consumed with all the care and appreciation of a brown-paper parcel of homemade chocolate chip cookies. In a time of uncertainty and strife, Swift has created a perfect album for trying times, one that effortlessly evokes images of sharing campfire stories and sitting under a summer’s milky star-lit sky, something we’ve all been craving whilst locked up indoors.
Image: Republic Records