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evermore Is the 2020 Holiday Gift We Didn’t Know We Needed

Taylor Swift continues to salvage the hot mess that is 2020. First with folklore, arguably the breakup album that defined the summer, if not all of 2020, and then again with the announcement of folklore’s companion record, evermore

Early Thursday morning (Dec. 10th AKA the best Hanukkah present I’ve ever gotten), Taylor Swift announced the impending release of folklore’s sister album: “I’m elated to tell you that my 9th studio album, and folklore’s sister record, will be out tonight at midnight eastern,” Swift wrote in an Instagram post

“It’s called evermore. To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in,” Swift wrote of the fifteen track record. 

I, along with thousands of other fans, wondered how evermore could possibly compete with an iconic, heart wrenching, album like folklore—an album that so many people felt so deeply and potentantly. Yet, only Taylor Swift could make an album that would make it impossible to tell.

As I sat around a fire pit under flannel blankets holding steaming cups of hot cinnamon apple tea with two of my friends (socially distanced and wearing masks in the freezing cold, of course), this album felt particularly made for nights like these. A chill, folky acoustic vibe that still manages to be incredibly poetic and real, without being as searing as folklore

I would rank these songs by which is my favorite, but I honestly cannot even tell because they are all so inherently talented and unique it makes me wonder if Taylor Swift really is in the woods somewhere working her musical magic. Without further ado, however, here is my take on the artistic masterpiece that is evermore. Feel free to listen along as you read! 

“willow”

Within the first three seconds of listening to the acoustic rift of this song, I knew I would be listening to this album on repeat for the next three to five months. Swift’s personal ode to her longtime boyfriend, Joe Alwyn—and, as she describes, a song about “the start of falling in love,”—seems to indicate that this album is the absolute opposite of folklore.

Rather than break our hearts on command, the song has a whimsical, folk (no pun intended) nature that allows her audience to wander into daydreams rather than reach for the tissue box immediately. Especially with Swift’s music video for the opening song of the album that begins with her in a cardigan (a reference to her “cardigan” music video), magic, witchcraft and a wedding dress, Swift immediately introduces a new tone for her fans as she sings, “the more that you say, the less I know/wherever you stray, I follow.” 

“willow” is a melodious tune that tells fans that they will not be emotionally wrecked by this album unlike folklore

“champagne problems”

Maybe I spoke too soon, as a soft piano guides us melancholically into our second, depressing, stop of this album tour. So much for not making us reach for the tissue box, Taylor. 

As the song begins, “You booked the night train for a reason / so you could sit there in this hurt,” and goes on to describe, “your mom’s ring in your pocket/my picture in your wallet / your heart was glass, I dropped it / champagne problems” fans theorize that this song is about a “rejected proposal” from Joe Alwyn (which the couple ironically wrote together). A wedding gown in “willow” and a proposal in “champagne problems, I’m sensing a theme here. 

Taylor, however, also has the tendency to make up characters and stories for her songs, with lyrics like, “November flushed and your flannel cured / This dorm was once a madhouse... How evergreen, our group of friends,” possibly alluding to college-sweetheart characters Taylor geniusly conjured. 

Whatever the story may be, one thing I know for certain is that this song is a heartbreaker.

“gold rush”

This song starts out with some shiny, immaculate verbs and images like, “gleaming, twinkling /  eyes like sinking ships on waters / so inviting I almost jump in,” before entering a poppy zest beat that makes this one of my favorite songs off the album. 

“I don’t like a gold rush, gold rush, / I don’t like anticipating my face in a red flush / I don’t like that anyone would die to feel your touch / Everybody wants you / Everybody wonders what it would be like to love you / walk past, quick brush,” Swift sings, making fans theorize that this song is about ex-boyfriend, Harry Styles. The song is called, “gold rush” after all, potentially alluding to Styles first song off of his Fine Line album, “Golden.” Plus, Styles is one of the most popular celebrities in the world, easily allowing the lyrics about anyone wondering what it would be like to “love you, walk past, quick brush” to make sense if it was in regards to Styles. 

Others theorize that the song could be about a rumored relationship with former BFF, supermodel, Karlie Kloss. Nonetheless, this song is Great Gatsby-esque poetry: “At dinner parties I won’t call you out on your contrarian s*** / And the coastal town we never found will never see a love as pure as it / Cause it fades into the gray of my day-old tea / ‘Cause it will never be.” 

I will be getting those lyrics tattooed on me. 

“‘tis the damn season”

Every girl stuck on her high school boyfriend/crush/whatever right now is sing-screaming the lyrics of this gut wrenching, yet soft, song into her pillow. Plus, references to seasonal depression anyone? 

The lyric video starts out with a snowy setting as Swift sings, “If I wanted to know who you were hanging with while I was gone I would’ve asked you / It’s the kind of cold fogs up windshield glass but I felt it when I passed you.” 

The chorus goes on to destroy me with lyrics like: “so we could call it even … ‘tis the damn season write this down / I’m staying at my parents’ house / and the road not taken looks real good now / and it always leads to you and my hometown.” This seems to expose the more than half (52 percent) of 18-29 year olds currently living with their parents during this pandemic, tea.

“tolerate it”

If I thought “champagne problems” was bad, this song is absolutely soul crushing. A melancholic piano follows the duration of the waterworks that is this song that describes a character who feels like they’re giving more to their partner than their partner is to them. Some even theorize that the song is about Princess Diana’s tumultuous and highkey toxic relationship with Prince Charles

The lyric that got me the most: “I know my love should be celebrated, but you tolerate it.” Definitely the hardest song to listen to and most emo song on the album that should come with a warning label.

“no body, no crime” (ft. HAIM)

This next track is the empowerment anthem I never knew I needed. The harrowing echoes that open the song, “he did it, he did it” sets the tone for a Taylor Swift and HAIM sisters catchy collaboration that follows the twist and turns of a song revolving around an unsolved murder. Swift credits the creation of this wild, iconic song to her obsession with true crime podcasts (and honestly, same Taylor). 

This song has country vibes that follows its main character “Este” whose husband cheats on her (cue the lyrics “her husband’s acting different and it smells like infidelity”). With the song’s chorus, “I think he did it but I just can’t prove it” enchantedly haunting and incandescent. 

Basically, Taylor Swift should just make her own Wattpad account because this song is not only incredibly catchy but complex and full of mystery. We stan a true crime, feminist bop.

“happiness”

This was reportedly the last song Swift wrote for the album and has a calm stillness that follows throughout. 

If you listen to the song closely, you can hear a ton of The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, references (which I couldn’t help but hear in Carey Mulligan’s, or Daisy Buchanan’s, voice). Lyrics like, “I hope she’ll be your beautiful fool” and “all you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness” are undoubtedly Gatsby references. 

For a song titled, “happiness,” make no mistake, there is nothing happy about this song. 

“dorothea”

“Hey Dorothea do you ever stop and think about me?” Swift’s very country-esque song coos. 

Fans, however, are asking: who is this song about? 

Some theorize that it is about Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik’s baby. Others theorize it could be about Selena Gomez. Another group believes that it’s really just a story Swift made up. It is also connected to “‘tis the damn season,” with a fictionalized male narrator reminiscing upon a love who “left her small town to chase down Hollywood dreams.”

Whatever the song is about, fans are absolutely going crazy with conspiracy theories.

“coney island” (ft. The National)

As someone who has been to Coney Island, I don't know why anyone would want to genuinely write a song about this. Nonetheless, this is definitely Taylor’s classic trick of fictionalizing characters and giving us immaculate art. 

The song maintains a slow start as Swift sings, “lost again with no surprises, disappointments” which basically describes my 2020. However, I absolutely love this collaboration with The National. As the song goes on, their voices mesh together into an absolute gift as they sing, “sorry for not winning you an arcade ring / over and over.” 

“ivy”

This is personally one of my favorite songs on the album as Swift sings, “oh goddamn, my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand … Oh I can’t stop you putting roots in my dreamland … My house of stone, your ivy grows and now I’m covered in you.” It’s just absolutely poetic while still maintaining a poppy zest to it. 

Lines like “I wish to know the fatal flaw that makes you long to be magnificently cursed…” show how this album is just full of mystery, suspense and metaphors. This is a triad that creates the allure and drama of Taylor’s songs and ensures an album so addicting that I will definitely be on my 72nd of this by tomorrow. 

“cowboy like me”

Maybe I’ll just say this about every song on the album, but this is also hands-down one of my favorites off the album. It somehow has such a calming, nostalgic, vibe that mutually makes my heart full all at once? Literal therapy after the s*** show of this year. 

Taylor Swift says that this song is about, “two young con artists who fall in love while hanging out at fancy resorts trying to score rich romantic beneficiaries.” Fitting for a song that starts out with the lyrics, “and the tennis court was covered up with some tent-like thing.” 

Definitely a song to listen to on a cold winter day curled up by the fire. 

“long story short”

According to Elle, “long story short” is about Swift’s four year journey “getting to where she is now after Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat takedown “canceled” her in 2016,” as well as Swift’s relationship with Tom Hiddleston before meeting Joe Alwyn. It represents a shift of Taylor becoming more private with her life, as her relationship with Alwyn has very much been defined by them dating and settling down quietly together over the past four years. 

Ultimately, the relationship with Alwyn changed Taylor’s life as she sings, “Now I’m all about you / I’m all about you.” Extremely catchy and self reflective? We love to see it. 

“marjorie”

As the lyric video shows, “marjorie” is an ode to Swift’s grandmother who passed away as Swift sings, “what died didn’t stay dead / what died didn’t stay dead / you’re alive, so alive.” Marjorie Finlay was an opera singer and her life is shown throughout the lyric video through newspaper headlines, wedding photos and video clips of Marjorie. 

Lines like “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,” couldn’t help but make me tear up. Specifically, lines like, “I should’ve asked you questions / I should’ve asked you how to be / Asked you to write it down for me / Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt / cause every scrap of you would be taken from me” were absolutely heart wrenching. 

Yet, while this song relates to anyone who has ever grieved someone, it still remains a touching tribute. Definitely one of my favorites of the album. 

“closure”

This song begins unlike any other song off this album with the scattered clanging of instruments to start it off. I found this song incredibly relatable. Everyone can relate to having to find closure from a relationship, whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship or just moving on from someone. “It’s been a long time and seeing the shape of your name still spells out pain” sets the tone for literally what it’s like to try and search for closure after a relationship ends. 

“It wasn't right, the way it all went down/looks like you know that now” rings so true. The soft piano combined with the consistent clanging throughout the duration of the song as Swift sings, “I know that it’s over / I don’t need your closure” is a mood, and seems to indicate how the thoughts of someone can still be so haunting even after you’ve found closure. 

Also the feeling I’m searching for the minute 2020 ends. 

“evermore” (ft. Bon Iver)

Is this song supposed to be “exile” part 2 since it features Bon Iver again, or does Taylor just really like collaborating with Bon Iver? Nonetheless, this song is like the “fine line” of this album, AKA ending with an absolutely orchestrated masterpiece. 

The song almost captures 2020 as a whole as Swift sings: “Gray November, I’ve been down since July / Motion capture put me in a bad light / I replay my footsteps on each stepping stone trying to find the one where I went wrong.” 

“Staring out an open window catching my death / And I couldn’t be sure, I had a feeling so peculiar / That this pain would be for evermore.” An absolute anthem for what this time─the COVID-19 pandemic─ has been, what this year has been, what life can be. 

Even as this gift of an album is released and Swift says, “Hey December, guess I’m feeling unmoored / Can’t remember, what I used to fight for,” it just rings so true of 2020. Sources say that Swift leaned into sadness to write this album, and honestly, same Taylor, as your audience definitely leaned into sadness while listening to it (cue me, listening to “august” for the 222nd time). 

Bon Iver further captures this melancholic feeling in the band’s ringing tone by singing, “can’t not think of all the cost / and the things that will be lost / oh, can we just get a pause/to be certain we’ll be tall again.” 

Never have I felt more validated during this pandemic than while listening to this song. 

While this has been one of the strangest and most difficult years, I hope we can all enjoy that this year is almost at a close by listening to evermore

Writer, Ted Talks curator, crisis-line volunteer. Probably writing, probably caffeinated.
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