evermore (A Review)

Hailin Zhang

Releasing one full-length album during a pandemic is already impressive; doing it twice, however, is truly an admirable feat. Barely five months after surprise-dropping folklore, Taylor Swift gifted evermore, her ninth studio album, to the world.

“willow,” the first track, starts the album off on an upbeat note. With a chorus of “The more you say, the less I know / Wherever you stray, I follow / I’m begging for you to take my hand / Wreck my plans, that’s my man,” it’s reminiscent of casting a love spell on someone.

Swift collaborated with William Bowery, a pseudonym for her boyfriend Joe Alwyn, on “champagne problems,” “coney island” and “evermore.” “champagne problems” implies that a marriage proposal has sparked the epiphany that one’s relationship must end, incorporating themes of heartbreak, sadness and new beginnings with lyrics like “Your heart was glass, I dropped it” and “Sometimes you just don’t know the answer / ‘Til someone’s on their knees and asks you.”

“coney island,” which features rock band The National, is one of the album’s more emotional tracks, with lyrics evoking a sense of longing and highlighting the lows of relationships, where both sides wonder if they’ve put in enough effort.

“gold rush” is a track that addresses someone the narrator’s attracted to; however, because this person is so perfect, she believes she’ll end up as another face in the crowd. Thus, we can assume, through lyrics like “I don’t like that anyone would die to feel your touch / Everybody wants you / Everybody wonders what it would be like to love you” and “Eyes like sinking ships on waters / So inviting, I almost jump in,” that she’s hesitant to profess her feelings because she’s not the only one who desires him. 

“’tis the damn season” weaves together nostalgia and emotion and connects to the eighth track, “dorothea.” Dorothea, who left her hometown to chase bigger dreams, returns and enters into an intimate relationship with someone from her past.

In “dorothea,” someone from her town wonders whether she still thinks of her, singing, “It’s never too late / To come back to my side.” This overlap is similar to “betty,” “august” and “cardigan” on folklore.

“tolerate it” tells of a woman in an unhappy marriage, whose husband doesn’t appreciate her. Swift sings, “I know my love should be celebrated / But you tolerate it” and “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky / Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life.”

“no body, no crime,” featuring pop rock band HAIM, subtly reminds us of Swift’s country sound and signals a darker shift to the album. Through lyrics like “He reports his missing wife / And his mistress moved in,” and “I’ve cleaned enough houses to know how to cover up a scene / Good thing Este’s sister’s gonna swear she was with me / Good thing his mistress took out a big life insurance policy,” the narrator sings of avenging the murder of her friend Este after she confronted her cheating husband.

“happiness,” finished just a week before the album’s release, may deceive listeners with its title; rather, it’s about moving on from a failing relationship while simultaneously acknowledging the bits of joy that occurred.

We meet two other characters, “ivy” and “marjorie,” later in the album. “ivy” is about a married woman who finds herself having an affair, continuing the theme of infidelity found in “illicit affairs” on folklore. “marjorie” was inspired by Swift’s late grandmother, an opera singer.

“cowboy like me” is a fun song about two bandits who, despite not searching for love, fall for each other. “long story short” is very personal, talking about Swift’s growth since she was publicly demonized years ago and signaling an end to that tumultuous time in her career. It’s also an ode to Alwyn, her boyfriend, who’s continuously stuck by her through all the drama. “closure” appears to be about ending things on a bad note with a lover and rebuffing their attempts at reconciliation, as shown through the lyrics “Yes, I got your letter / Yes, I’m doing better.”

Indie folk band Bon Iver returns for the album’s conclusion, adequately titled “evermore.” The song deals with mental health and details the narrator’s transition from a period of deep depression to a path toward healing and hope.

Through these 15 tracks, Swift continues the vibe established in folklore and further emphasizes her transition from pop to alternative. evermore, which showcases her creativity and talent as a writer, is definitely worth more than one listen.