Taylor Swift fans can’t believe their luck this week as they are gifted with the early Christmas present that is yet another surprise album from their idol. Evermore follows just five months after Folklore; the result of a fruitful creative experience that just never seemed to end for Swift and her team. On the whole, lockdown has been quite the musical success for this pop star.
Lead single Willow opens the album with a dose of cool, smooth rock with twinkling synths and the catchiest chorus on the record. Following that is the slower piano ballad of Champagne Problems. There’s something about Taylor Swift that makes her so good at melancholy minor drops; she doesn’t need to over-produce when her music is so melodically evocative.
On the other hand, she relies on this a little too often on Evermore so we do end up with a few filler tracks. Tolerate It doesn’t particularly stand out, nor does the synth-led pop ballad that is Marjorie, or the country-tinged Ivy and Cowboy Like Me. ‘Tis The Damn Season is another acoustic track which we hoped would be a little festive, but, alas, there’s nothing especially Christmassy about it which we can’t help but feel disappointed about.
Still, there’s enough here to keep us listening. Gold Rush elevates the album to dreamy heights with a rhythmic melody that leads the listener off into a trance – not unlike Happiness which is another uplifting, almost hymn-like song on the record.
No Body, No Crime featuring the Haim sisters is certainly a highlight. It’s essentially a tongue-in-cheek murder ballad, taking her back to her roots with the country flavour, but more wild west than Nashville sweetheart.
There’s some suggestion that Taylor Swift takes her interest in true crime further on Evermore with the songs Marjorie and Dorothea, with many speculating that this is in reference to fellow Pennsylvanians Marjorie and Dorothea West; the former being a well-documented missing person in the 1930s and the latter being her sister. However, this could largely be coincidence since Marjorie is actually named for Taylor’s late grandmother. Dorothea is a rather livelier piano number than Marjorie full of childhood nostalgia; the “Doratheee-ah” refrain will take some getting out of your head. It’s one of the more enjoyable tracks.
Coney Island featuring The National is another welcome collaboration. An acoustic indie rock number whereby the gravelly tone of Matt Berninger’s voice adds a certain depth, contrasting beautifully with Taylor’s sweet, airy vocal. Certainly the collaborations on here help to keep the album interesting.
The penultimate Closures is the BJ Burton-produced number that’s a little more experimental, but doesn’t take it to the extreme. Again, a little disappointing, though not surprising when the rest of the album is a little on the safe side. The title track featuring Bon Iver, however, makes sure the album ends on a memorable note, conveying a last wave of emotional energy that can always be relied upon when it comes to this Wisconsin five-piece.
As expected, Evermore follows in very much the same vein as Folklore; it’s largely stripped-back, steeped in warmth and comfort, and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, you get the sense that Taylor Swift has been massively enjoying getting back to her more acoustic roots. Even the explicit language suggests a more relaxed, raw songwriting process. This is the chill-out album we needed to round off this stressful year.