“evermore” by Taylor Swift

“My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand
Taking mine, but it’s been promised to another
Oh, I can’t stop you putting roots in my dreamland
My house of stone

Your ivy grows
And now I’m covered in you”

Kicking off this re-vamped version of my blog on the first day of the new year feels like a fresh new beginning for me, which is honestly exactly how I would describe evermore, the newest project from Taylor Swift. Mixing her pop sensibility with a hint of her country roots, a modern folk sound, and her god-tier songwriting, she truly delivers on this project, causing myself (and many of her fans) to continue listening over and over again.

Now, I’ll be honest: I’ve never really been a Swiftie, despite always having respected and admired her artistry since the start of her prolific career. Her music never really resonated with me personally even though, again, it’s easy to see why it resonates with so many other people. I was impressed with the production on reputation and Lover especially and I found folklore alright, but still, I felt like I didn’t really “get” Taylor like others did.

All of that changed when evermore came out less than a month ago. Somehow, when the opening notes of willow rang out in my ears, I knew I was going to love this project. The chorus of this track is just sublime from a songwriting and production perspective.

“The more that 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”

— “willow”

The excellent songwriting is probably the most consistent aspect of evermore (which is saying something, because this is a very cohesive project on many levels) and what personally made me fall for it. It’s more elaborate, raw, and prose-ish than anything she’s ever put out, in my opinion. The storytelling nature of a lot of folk or general “guitar” music is mixed with pop song structures and catchy choruses, as seen on the country-tinged no body, no crime (feat. HAIM) which is among my favourites on the album. The more complex lyricism is poetic without sounding stuffy or as though Taylor is “trying too hard” in any way. It feels so honest, in a way that I personally never saw coming from Taylor on an acoustic album. Something about quieter music brings out the emotion for me in a way that pop songs like those which can be found on albums like reputation just don’t (I still really like reputation though).

Don’t get me wrong, folklore was strong in the songwriting department as well, and didn’t come off as dishonest or anything, and I’m not saying it wasn’t emotional and well-done. However, I do think that it missed the mark a bit when it came to the instrumentation; too many songs blended together, and for me, this resulted in much of the emotional message getting diluted. I was zoning in and out because the instrumental aspects weren’t interesting enough for me (exile (feat. Bon Iver) is an absolute masterpiece though; it makes me want to learn piano just to play it).

This is an issue that evermore avoids entirely, in my opinion, and so when Taylor’s incredible lyricism and songwriting skills met the proper instrumental backdrop, it felt like magic to me. It still does.

I honestly don’t think there’s a song I dislike on the album. Of course, I have favourites (willow, champagne problems, no body, no crime (feat. HAIM), ivy) and least favourites (happiness, coney island (feat. The National)) like with any album, but to make a project unique and cohesive enough in a genre you haven’t touched in a while without a single dud is impressive.

I think another reason the album personally really got to me was not only the pain in the lyrics, but the refinement with which it’s addressed. There’s a sort of class in the way she phrases things and in the way she discusses her hardship. Take these lyrics from Shake It Off, from her album 1984:

But I keep cruisin’
Can’t stop, won’t stop groovin’
It’s like I got this music in my mind
Sayin’ it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

— “Shake It Off”

Then, from the title track from evermore:

Gray November
I’ve been down since July
Motion capture
Put me in a bad light
I replay my footsteps on each stepping stone
Trying to find the one where I went wrong
Writing letters
Addressed to the fire

— “evermore (feat. Bon Iver)”

There’s something to be said about her incredibly wide range of expression; not just that she feels the different emotions expressed in those two songs, but that she can make them both into great songs. However, when I personally look at those two examples, I definitely gravitate more towards the latter, not just because the lyrics are sadder and I’m an emo idiot, but because of the ethereality she creates with her words. It’s a mixture of lyrics and instrumentation of course (putting the poppy beat of Shake It Off with these lyrics wouldn’t create that same effect, and vice-versa), but still. At the risk of sounding too vague, I read that, and I feel like I’m floating in a shifting pool of emotion; as opposed to having it bluntly presented to me, I get to be thoughtful and reflective as I am slowly immersed into the waters of Taylor’s and my own mind.

evermore is the perfect mixture of a large range of emotions, and as a work by Taylor Swift, it feels at once fresh and familiar. It’s beautiful, and it continues to be highly impactful for me each time I listen through. I highly recommend you check it out.

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