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Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Music Review: Taylor Swift’s evermore


On Dec. 11, 2020, Taylor Swift announced her surprise 9th studio album titled evermore. Swift described this album to be a “sister” album to her 8th studio album titled folklore. She dropped folklore in July of 2020, and evermore was born out of folklore’s indie style and how much of a grasp it had on Swift’s creative songwriting. Swift said she “just couldn’t stop writing songs.” She loved how folklore allowed her fans to escape from the stress of COVID-19, and this motivated her to continue folklore’s theme in evermore

Even though folklore and evermore are quite similar in style, they are both unique in their own way and contribute to Swift’s discography differently. Folklore is more focused on characters that were created by Swift, whose names are James, Augustine, and Betty. Evermore, on the other hand, deals with more broad feelings that many young people have been able to relate to, including homesickness, longing, addiction, frustration, and of course, being broken-hearted. There is no obvious connection to the folklore love triangle in evermore, but like all pieces of media, these albums are open to interpretation, and each individual person who listens to these records will find something different to relate to. 

Evermore begins with “willow,” which is also the first single on the album. This song is more lighthearted and keeps the listeners engaged with the soft guitar and vocal arrangements. With lyrics like, “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind / Head on the pillow I can feel you sinking in,” and, “Show me the places where the others gave you scars,” this song will warm the hearts of all who listen. Taylor’s classic storytelling really shines through in this song, and it gives listeners hope that love is all a person really needs. 

The second track on evermore is one of my personal favorites that Swift has ever released, and that is “champagne problems.” Yet again, Taylor’s impeccable and unreal storytelling ability is very prevalent, and the theme of being broken-hearted starts to emerge. This song tells the story of a woman who unexpectedly denies her boyfriend’s proposal for marriage. Her rumored “champagne problems,” which can quite easily be linked to mental health issues, are what caused her to say no. The lyric, “This dorm was once a mad house/ I made a joke ‘well, it’s made for me’” alludes to the fact that this woman would make jokes in college about her mental health struggles. The song then transitions into how everyone around the rejected man is telling him that he did not deserve the treatment that the woman gave him and that he can do much better. The lyric, “But you’ll find the real thing instead / She’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred / And hold your hand while dancing / Never leave you standing / Crestfallen on the landing / With champagne problems” proves this point and effortlessly transitions into the song’s conclusion. 

Overall, this song’s heavy themes and gut-wrenching story left Swift fans completely struck with awe. Fans have been saying for months how amazing this song would be in a live concert, and Swift has said in multiple interviews that she plans on doing it justice during her next tour. 

The third song on this album, titled “gold rush,” is much happier than the previous track and takes place during a single daydream. There has been much debate in Swift’s fandom on whether or not this song is about Swift herself having a daydream or another original character, but either way, this sweet story about a person daydreaming about their crush and finding nothing but perfection in every single feature they hold feels youthful and bright. 

The fourth track on this album is named “‘tis the damn season.” This track is based on a girl who has left her hometown and is fulfilling her dreams to become a Hollywood star. She comes back to her hometown for the holidays and starts to wonder if moving away was the best decision for her. Taylor writes, “I’m stayin’ at my parents’ house / And the road not taken looks real good now / And it always leads to you in my hometown.” This lyric encapsulates everything this song is about. “The road not taken” refers to the decision to stay home instead of leaving to follow your dreams, and the character is obviously having second thoughts about not choosing that path for themselves. This song has one of my favorites sounds on the album that can only be experienced by listening yourself. It makes the listeners feel like they are the ones who want to go home, and the homesickness theme is the most prevalent on this track. 

The fifth song is “tolerate it,” and this song struck me the most the first time I listened to evermore. This song describes a woman whose husband does not appreciate anything she does for him and barely even pays attention to her. The woman in this relationship, however, adores her husband and makes sure he is well accounted for. I feel that the lyrics in this track are the most powerful on the album. These lyrics include: “I wait by the door like I’m just a kid / Use my best colors for your portrait / Lay the table with the fancy gifts / And watch 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.” Nobody deserves a relationship like this, and the awareness Taylor is bringing through her music is admirable. 

Track number six is something I never expected to hear from Swift, and that is a story of murder. This song is called “no body no crime,” and it features the band HAIM. This is a more country-sounding song that explains the story of a murder mystery. The main character in this story retaliates against her friend’s disappearance and possible murder. Her friend’s name is Este, and they meet every Tuesday for dinner. At this one specific dinner, Este tells the main protagonist that she thinks her husband is cheating on her, and the main character starts to get suspicious that Este was killed by the husband the next week when Este doesn’t show up for dinner. The main character thinks Este’s husband has something to do with it since his mistress has moved in and his truck has some “brand new tires.” There is no actual confession from this main character that she actually killed Este’s husband in an act of revenge, but the song does allude to the fact that the mistress thinks the main character did it. My personal favorite aspect about this song is how the chorus changes from Este talking about how she thinks her husband cheated on her to the mistress having a suspicion that the main character killed the husband. This transition is: “I think he did it, but I just can’t prove it,” to “She thinks I did it, but she just can’t prove it.” Any person who is a fan of true crime documentaries or murder mysteries should definitely give this song a listen. It is a new type of theme for Swift, and I am still uncovering new meanings in the lyrics almost a year later. 

The song “happiness” is the seventh track on evermore, and even though this is not one that I listen to very often, it is still one of Swift’s most vulnerable pieces. This song starts off very sad and gloomy, talking about trying to move on from a breakup, but it then transitions into more hopeful lyrics. The singer is reminiscing about her last relationship and is acknowledging that it did bring her happiness, but there is still so much happiness to be found in her life. “There’ll be happiness after you / But there was happiness because of you / Both of these things can be true / There is happiness,” is the main message in this song. “No one teaches you what to do / When a good man hurts you / And you know you hurt him too,” is a lyric that stands out to me in the song. I love that Swift takes responsibility in the song as well as acknowledging that the “man” made mistakes as well. She wants to leave it all behind and find new happiness, whether that be in a new relationship or even another passion that she will find. She knows there will be happiness either way. 

“Dorothea” is up next, and this song has very visible ties to the earlier track “‘tis the damn season.” For a quick refresher, “‘tis the damn season” is about a girl who left her hometown to follow her dreams. “Dorothea” parallels this song as it is sung from the perspective of a person whose teenage love left their hometown to make their mark in Hollywood. Some lyrical parallels between the two songs are as follows: “You got shiny friends since you left town (‘dorothea’),” and, “So I’ll go back to LA, with my so-called friends / Who’ll write books about me if I ever make it (‘‘tis the damn season’).” It seems that the character in “‘tis the damn season” is having regrets about not staying home with the love interest, and the love interest in “dorothea” wants them to stay. This style of writing is why I love Swift so much. Her creativity in her stories is unmatched in the sense of characters and connections, and dissecting her songs is what makes them so popular. She is brilliant, and this storyline is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful. 

Next on the list is “coney island,” which features the band The National. This song is yet another ballad and is also a duet between Swift and Matthew Berninger, who is the lead singer in The National. This song tells the story of two sides of a couple, and even though they sing about different things, both of their underlying themes are the same. They are sorry that the other person in the couple felt slighted in how they treated them, and they both carry immense guilt for it. “Break my soul in two / Looking for you but you’re right here / If I can’t relate to you anymore / Then who am I related to?,” sticks out in my mind, as well as, “If I pushed you to the edge / But you were too polite to leave me.” The chorus showcases the ironic nature of the song being named after the neighborhood and entertainment area Coney Island in New York, which is known for being a place to make happy memories. “And I’m sitting on a bench in Coney Island wondering where did my baby go? / The fast times, the bright lights, the merry go / Sorry for not making you my centerfold.” Overall, this song showcases regret and forgiveness very well, and it further deepens the themes that Swift was going for in this album. 

The tenth track is “ivy,” which has a simple yet alluring sound that can easily get stuck in one’s head. It is definitely happier than the previous track, and it is a story about love. This story follows a girl who is engaged to one man but is actually in love with another. This “other man” seems to be a better fit for the girl. Swift writes, “My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand,” and “My house of stone, your ivy grows / And now I’m covered in you.” The girl in this story is falling for this man, and she is falling hard. She is constantly mentioning that she shouldn’t be doing this and that it is wrong to cheat on her betrothed, but she still loves her “other man” and wants to be with him. Overall this song is immensely complicated but in the best way possible. It is so enjoyable to dissect and hum. 

“Cowboy like me” is up next on evermore, and this song confused me the most when I first heard it. It has taken me quite a while to try and understand what it is truly about. It seems that this country-style song follows a pair of swindlers who fall in love in a restaurant after the man asks the woman to dance. “And you asked me to dance / But I said ‘Dancing is a dangerous game’ / Now I know / I’m never gonna love again” shows how the woman was hesitant at first, but has since completely fallen. Even though this song confused me at first, it has grown to become one of my all-time favorites by Swift. I love how she made her voice deeper and kept the pacing slow.  

The twelfth song is titled “long story short,” and it seems to deal with Swift’s own life rather than stories she created. This song alludes to all the drama that went down between Swift, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Katy Perry in 2016 that led to Swift completely disappearing from the public eye for a year. She sings about how she was put through so much turmoil and pain during that time, but long story short, she survived. “Past me / I wanna tell you not to get lost in these petty things / Your nemeses / Will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing,” is my personal favorite lyric in this song because Swift is talking to her “past self” and trying to tell her that everything will work out. That gives the listener some comfort in the sense that things may work out in their own lives, and it must have been very satisfying for Swift to write as well. She is officially closing that chapter in her life and that is very admirable. 

Track thirteen (which is Swift’s favorite number) is titled “marjorie” in tribute to Swift’s late grandmother, Marjorie Finlay. Finlay was a talented opera singer and obviously had a huge influence on Swift’s musical profession. Swift sings about how she wishes that she spent more time with her grandmother and how her grandmother lent a lot of her old dresses to Swift as well. “The autumn chill that wakes me up / You loved the amber skies so much / Long limbs and frozen swims / You’d always go past where our feet could touch,” reminisces on fun times Swift had with Finlay and it gives listeners a very nostalgic feeling. “Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt / ‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me,” hits especially close to home to anyone who has lost a loved one, especially myself. This song is equally as beautiful as it is devastating, and I commend Swift for being so vulnerable. 

Track fourteen is “closure” which has an odd sound at the beginning. It almost sounds like pots and pans banging together and it seems to signify the confused and angry feelings Swift is feeling in this song. Swift proceeds to tell the story about how an ex of hers wants to be on good terms and have “closure” after their breakup, but Swift feels that they are just trying to smooth over this uncomfortable part of their life. As if she’s some sort of liability that needs to be fixed. She refuses the offer. “I know I’m just a / Wrinkle in your new life / Staying friends would / Iron it out so nice,” portrays the exact emotions Swift is feeling, and even though this song is definitely not my favorite, I think her imagery and creative writing style really shines through.

The final song on evermore is actually called “evermore“. This song features Bon Iver who also features on the song “exile” on Swift’s album folklore. “Exile” is one of my favorite of Swift’s songs, and so I was very much looking forward to another feature from Iver. My expectations were by far met. This song touches on feeling hopeless and that the pain that you are in, whatever it may be, seems like it will remain “for evermore.” These past two years of our lives have been immensely difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and so this song hit hard for a lot of people in that sense. But, even though this song does start off sad, it slowly reveals the light at the end of the tunnel. Swift changes the chorus from “this pain would be for evermore” to “this pain wouldn’t be for evermore” at the very end, and it is a perfect way to close out the album. Iver and Swift’s voices mesh so well together, and in my opinion, there was no better way to show the world that we can get through this difficult time. 

Our pain will not be for evermore. 

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About the Contributor
Olivia Buckel
Olivia Buckel, Senior Editor-in-Chief
Olivia is the senior editor-in-chief of The Rambler. She was the junior editor of The Rambler during the 2021-2022 school year, and has written over twenty articles. She enjoys going to the movies, reading, and skiing in her free time, and hopes to pursue English at a four-year university.
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