Taylor Swift is known throughout the pop world for her upbeat songs that uplift spirits and get people through rough breakups.
Swift had a full year of tours planned, but when COVID-19 hit, she was stuck at home in isolation. The crisis has been hard on the majority of people, but Swift made an announcement that shocked the music world and created excitement for listeners. On July 23, 2020, Swift stated that her eighth album would be released at midnight.
“Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen,” Swift stated on Instagram. “And that thing is my eighth studio album, Folklore.”
Swift collaborated with Indie-Folk band Bon Iver and songwriters Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner to release an album with 16 new songs. She also made a music video for the song “Cardigan” while practicing social distancing this summer. Aaron Dessner, a founding member of the band “The National,” was a huge help for Swift as he wrote and produced 11 of the 16 songs, according to Swift’s Instagram post.
“My gut is telling me if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world,” Swift said.
With the album’s unique tonal shift, it follows the name of the album with a more folk-music feel. According to YP Weekly, “Cardigan” and “The 1” are two songs that dive deep into the folk sounds. Slow, soft piano chords dance through the background while Swift sings softly with slow lyrics of lost love and heartbreaks.
“Folklore is the best Taylor Swift album as far as instrumentals go and one of the top three in terms of storytelling,” says Jessica Marcus, long-time Taylor Swift fan.
The song “The Last Great American Dynasty” is one of the storytelling songs that Marcus talks about. According to Glamour Magazine, “Taylor Swift listeners (also known as ‘Swifties’) said this song was not told from her perspective or stories of her own life. It is said to be based on a true story of a former owner of one of the houses that Swift owns.
Rebekah Harkness is the woman of which the story is about, detailing true stories from her life. According to the Washington Post, Harkness became the owner of the house after her late husband passed away and she inherited it. She was known for throwing extravagant parties in the 1950s and 1960s as a way to get revenge on the town for all the criticism she received after inheriting the mansion from Standard Oil heir William Hale Harkness. Swift tells the stories of the parties and the criticism from the town, and by the end of the song, she relates to Harkness by the criticism she has received in the past.
Folk music is known to be one of storytelling and strong instrumentals, and Swift shares a story within each one through vocals and sounds. Although it contrasts with her other albums, the classic Swift undertones still shine through to the avid listener.