‘Evermore’ proves to be a work of lyrical genius

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Billboard

Madeline Bruce, Features Editor

Taylor Swift has certainly made the most of her time during the pandemic, releasing two albums in the span of four months and continuing to prove that she is an artist for the ages.

“Evermore,” the sister album to previously released “Folklore,” was released Dec. 11 and came as a surprise to fans, many of whom claim Swift “saved 2020” by releasing not one – but two – unexpected albums this year.

While I liked “Folklore” – a lot – I love “Evermore.” Don’t get me wrong – both are poetic works of art in their own senses and are unlike any album Swift has released during her 14-year career, but “Evermore” just has a little something “Folklore” lacked for me.

I hate to say “Folklore” lacked something, because it really didn’t overall. Maybe it’s because “Folklore” was too delicate, while “Evermore” has a tone of heartbreak and melancholy to it. It’s like “Folklore’s” younger sister who used to be dark and brooding but is coming into her own and realizing there is more than hurt and black nail polish in life.

Much like “Folklore,” “Evermore” is full of storytelling ballads. “Champagne Problems” is about a woman breaking up with her college sweetheart on the night he planned to propose. Heartbreak fills the lyrics with lines like “Because I dropped your hand while dancing / Left you out there standing / Crestfallen on the landing,” which make me want to listen over and over, despite the sinking feeling in my chest whenever I hear those lyrics.

Speaking of sinking feelings, the track “Happiness” contradicts its own title. Striking in its ambient nature, the song is told from the point of view of a woman at the end of a relationship. While there are melancholy lyrics in it — “Showed you all of my hiding spots / I was dancing when the music stopped” — there are also hopeful lyrics: “There is happiness / Past the blood and bruise / Past the curses and cries.” Then, there are lyrics that are both melancholy and hopeful: “There’ll be happiness after you / But there was happiness because of you.”

“Willow” is a more upbeat track on the album, in which Swift sings about having a hopeless crush on someone: “I’m begging for you to take my hand / Wreck my plans, that’s my man.” Being the first song on the album, it was the first I listened to, and I instantly loved the story it tells. It reminds me of chasing after somebody and daydreaming about being swept away, despite the scorn and judgment from others: “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind / They count me out time and time again / Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind / But I come back stronger than a ‘90s trend.”

“Evermore” is full of songs like “Champagne Problems,” “Happiness” and “Willow – songs that contrast each other, making for a contradicting fairytale that can create a bittersweet feeling of fantasy and reality combining into ethereal heartbreak.

There is no better example of this than the tracks “No Body, No Crime” and “Gold Rush.” While the former is a country noir ballad about the murder of the speaker’s friend at the hands of her adulterous and abusive husband, the latter is about being lost in a daydream about someone who is unattainable romantically. With lyrics like “And I noticed when I passed his house his truck has got some brand-new tires / And his mistress moved in / Sleeps in Este’s bed and everything,” “No Body, No Crime” makes the listener want to seek revenge on behalf of Este, the woman who met her untimely demise at the suspected hands of her husband, though no one can prove it.

Meanwhile, “Gold Rush” makes listeners feel like they’re being caught up in a rose-colored daydream, with lyrics like “I see me padding ‘cross your wooden floors / With my Eagles t-shirt hanging from the door” that paint the scene of being in the room of an unattainable crush. That scene comes crashing down with lyrics like “I don’t like that falling feels like flying ‘til the bone crush,” which are the best lyrics on the entire album.

As an English major, I can’t help but call “Evermore” a work of literary genius. I know this is supposed to be a music review – and it is – but the storytelling, allusions and figurative language in this album can only be rivaled by its sister “Folklore.” Swift has true talent when it comes to storytelling in her music, and that is shown eloquently and beautifully in the music she released in 2020.

Listening to “Evermore” includes so much more than just listening to music. It is easy to get caught up in the stories that are told by the lyrics and the feelings evoked by the pure artistry. Each song feels like reading a different chapter of a book, as the listener is swept into the world Swift has created in each line.

Even if you’re not a big Taylor Swift fan, I highly recommend listening to “Evermore,” as well as its older sister album “Folklore.”

 

MADELINE BRUCE

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