Taylor Swift’s Folklore - An Album I Haven’t Heard Before
By Noemi Elliott
Look at how my tears ricochet… while listening to the magic of Taylor Swift’s new album, Folklore.
The genius of her soft voice in conjunction with minimal beats and a melancholy tone throughout creates my favorite, five-out-of-five star Swift album to date, especially the song “my tears ricochet.”
Released on July 23, 2020, Folklore is a step away from Swift’s overproduced, quintessential teenage breakup songs and a step toward a powerful indie singer. Written under self-isolation after the start of the global pandemic, Swift’s eighth studio album was released with just 24 hours’ notice. Previously, the singer spent months dropping hints and advertising the upcoming release of her album. To me, the surprise release made the album more powerful, as I didn’t spend months anticipating and expecting to be blown away by her artistry… even though I inevitably was.
First and foremost, the lyrics throughout Swift’s 16-track album are hard to beat. Sure, there are some lyrics which are less original than others. The line “take the road less traveled by” in “illicit affairs” seems more like a nod at Robert Frost’s famous poem than an example of Swift’s otherwise exemplary songwriting skills. That said, Swift’s storytelling in songs like “the last great american dynasty” and “betty” are reminiscent of “Old Taylor,” highlighted in albums such as Fearless and Speak Now. Gone is the young pop star and here is a more mature, thoughtful artist.
Unlike in her last seven albums, Folklore doesn’t have any super-catchy songs. By this, I refer to earworms like “Blank Space” from 1989, “Look What You Made Me Do” from Reputation, and “Me!” from Lover. Nonetheless, it made me like the album that much more. As the accompanying beats are minimal throughout, Swift’s unique voice shines. With just a piano in the background, Swift seems to whisper into the microphone in “hoax,” while reflecting on a toxic relationship. She no longer hides behind loud beats and overproduced songs, she is front and center, open and bare to the world.
One of my personal favorites is “mad woman,” especially the opening verse when she sings “Does a scorpion sting when fighting back? They strike to kill, and you know I will.” In lyrics such as this, the overall eerie, haunted tone in the album is evident. Swift is no longer writing new names in her blank space, she’s no longer telling kids “spelling is fun,” instead, she recalls teenage love triangles and mistakes of her youth. Folklore is definitely a rainy-day type of album, one that is best saved for those otherwise melancholy days.
Folklore is not a love at first sight type of album. It is one that needs to be listened to at least three times, wrestled with, and one that requires patience to decipher the complicated lyrics and underlying messages before it can truly be appreciated. I admit that my initial reaction to the lack of sugary pop songs was disgust, but, as I continued listening and relistening, I realized that those pop songs get old with time, while songs on Folklore merely get better each time, hence its five-star rating.