Album Review: Taylor Swift’s “Evermore”

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Credit: Owen Smith

A dead wife, Este. A cheating husband turned murderer, who then gets murdered. A framed mistress. A woman hellbent on avenging Este’s death. Four people tangled up in a chaotic web of lying and cheating. The result: an entire town asking the same question “Who did it?” It sounds like the plot of a thrilling drama, right? Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. It’s merely a synopsis of the four minute song “No body, No crime” on Taylor Swift’s newest album “Evermore.” With descriptive, intriguing songs like “No Body, No crime”, “Evermore” proves to be a welcome addition to Swift’s discography.

Swift released “Evermore”, her ninth studio album, on midnight of Dec. 11 to the delight and surprise of Swifties. The album consists of 15 tracks and two bonus tracks. Its musical style is characterized as “folk-pop” and it features songs that cover topics ranging from fictional stories about runaway fiancees (“Champagne Problems”), affairs (“Ivy”), toxic-relationships (“Tolerate it”) and of course, murders (“No Body, No Crime”).

“Evermore” is the sister-album to “Folklore,” Swift’s eighth studio album. The genre of music on both these albums differs from Swift’s typical country and pop sound. Compared to Swift’s previous seven albums, “Evermore” and “Folklore” venture down an experimental, alternative rock/folk road when it comes to lyrics and musical accompaniment. The instrumentals and overall tone and pace of Swift’s singing is more relaxed and soothing in these albums than in her former record “Lover.” “Evermore” specifically focuses on character development and storytelling through first-person and third-person perspectives.

“Evermore” was met with much deserved critical acclaim upon its release. The album reached No. 1 in nine countries, including the United States. Additionally, all of “Evermore”’s singles made it in the “Billboard Hot 100” in the same week. This album definitely deserves the praise. Not only does it manage to fit beautifully developed stories into three to five minute songs, but it’s also just fun to listen to and unpack.

Similar to “No body, No crime”, “Cowboy Like Me”, track 11 on “Evermore”, also conveys Swift’s gripping storytelling. It’s about a con artist who fell in love with a fellow con artist, and how their chosen lifestyles are destroyed by their relationship. Swift, in addition to writing a fascinating plot, capitalizes on instrumentals and beautiful imagery in order to bring this raw character to life. She uses the alluring metaphor: “now you hang from my lips like the Gardens of Babylon.” These 11 words hold a level of nuance that you’d only find in a 800 page book. They describe how magical her ex-lover was, like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Also, no human has ever seen the gardens, meaning that there’s a chance that they never existed. This plays on how the couple’s relationship was almost an illusion—something so beautiful and seemingly perfect, it had no chance of lasting and is questionable that it was ever real at all. Throughout the song, Swift never raises her voice, indicating that she does not feel angry or betrayed and alluding to her true motivation. She’s not seeking love, but “hustling for the good life.” The fact that she’s accepted their tragic fate through the somber, but knowing the tone of her voice, was hauntingly mesmerizing to listen to in the best way possible.

Not only are “Evermore”’s songs engaging because of their riveting storylines, lively characters and creative lyrics, they will also captivate the detective in all of us. If you listen to these songs closely, you will notice that some of them connect. For example, the songs “Dorethea” and “Tis’ the Damn Season” revolve around the same on and off relationship, but they are told from the perspectives of each person. Dorethea, who left her small town to pursue an acting career, returns home in “Tis’ the Damn Season” and reconnects with her high school flame, saying the roads “always lead to you in my hometown.” The other song, “Dorethea,”, is from the perspective of the ex-boyfriend as he wonders, “Hey, Dorethea, do you ever stop and think about me?” and claims that she “got shiny friends since [she] left town” and “a tiny screen’s the only place [he] sees her now.” Dorethea then shares her side of the story in “Tis’ the Damn Season.” The subtle way that Swift weaves an interconnected storyline enhances the “Evermore” experience for every listener.

Overall, whether you are in the puzzle-cracking mood or not, Swift’s most recent album “Evermore” manages to make every single song, every single lyric and even every single guitar riff engaging. Listening to this album allows you to delve deep into vivid worlds and interact with genuine characters. This, combined with the lulling tone of Swift’s voice, will combat any stress or hardships you may have, even if it’s just for a four minute song. For these reasons, I give this album a 4.8/5.