Today we have another Taylor Swift album, but in the spirit of artist diversity, “Folklore” released in the depth of the pandemic in 2020, is a respected and appreciated change of pace for this creative songwriter and performer. Like many performers, and certainly the rest of us, her plans for 2020 were turned upside down with the pandemic. She had planned a big tour that year, but quarantined herself as we all did, waiting for the world to make sense of this new and unexpected twist of fate. As a tradeoff, she recorded and released “Folklore” as a reaction to our collective isolation and loneliness, and it proved to be the #1 selling album of 2020.
Much more contemplative, reserved and subdued than some of her mega-hit albums like “1989”, the songs speak again to the sadness of broken relationships and loneliness, with a much softer tone. This sound seems to suit her well, and I found this record to be very pleasant and appealing to listen to, even if I didn’t personally recognize any of the songs. I realized that part of the reason these songs may have seemed to new to me was an alteration in my own routine. Without long commutes in the car, my limited exposure to new music on the radio was pretty much completely vanquished unless I or one of my friends discovered something intentionally.
For whatever reason, one song stood out to me above the rest. The opening song on the album, “the 1”, really caught my ear from the first listen. It builds off a simple two-chord melody on the piano and speaks to the melancholy sentiment of a lost relationship and the sad but accepting sentiments of that outcome. It just is a really pretty song and will definitely be my primary takeaway from this album.
The rest of the album is another collection of appealing songs, if from a softer vein, and if I had to pick a few more favorites, I would go with “cardigan”, “exile”, featuring another appearance from Bon Iver, and “this is me trying”.
As I approach the end of this experience, my respect and appreciation for Taylor Swift has never been higher. Whether it is an incredibly bubbly song like “You Need to Calm Down”, which she released in 2019 and is my favorite all-time song of hers, or the subtle approach of “Folklore”, her versatility as an artist is impressive, and I look forward to watching the rest of her career unfold.