I have loved Taylor Swift since I was six years old. 14 years later, despite the countless evolutions that both Taylor’s career and my own personal taste in music have gone through, I’m still as in love with her music as I was hearing “Teardrops On My Guitar” for the first time in 2006. In addition to being a massive Taylor fan, I am obsessed with indie music, especially indie folk, so you can imagine my excitement when “folklore” made its surprise debut. Taylor proved that despite being known for pop and country music, she has a spot in the indie folk scene.
To celebrate her most current evolution, I have compiled a playlist of songs by other indie ladies to check out if “folklore” is your first introduction to indie or you’re just looking for new music to vibe to this fall.
If you like “the 1” listen to “Addictions” by Lucy Dacus
“The 1” is about appreciating how far you’ve come, while still wondering and wishing about what could have been. In “Addictions,” Lucy Dacus explores a similar sentiment of longing to be back in a place where she didn’t need a reason to call at 2am, while acknowledging that the relationship is over. And if you’re looking for another album as emotional and heartfelt as “folklore,” Dacus’s “Night Shift” is mandatory post-breakup listening.
If you like “cardigan” listen to “Too Dark” by Frankie Cosmos
“Too Dark” explores the same self-doubt that cardigan references. As Swift explores feeling like “cardigan under someone’s bed,” Frankie admits that sometimes she feels like a “bug you brush off your ear”. Both are songs about wanting to change the ending of an already doomed love story alongside a lover who momentarily rids you of your insecurities only for them to intensify once they leave.
If you like “the last great american dynasty” listen to “Dog” by Nataly Dawn
Thematically, these songs don’t seem like they would go together. But they are similar-sounding (“Dog” sounds like a sped up last great american dynasty if you will) and employ incredible storytelling skills. In my opinion, “lgad” is the most lighthearted song on the album and I think that “Dog” has a similar fun and slightly chaotic energy. And obviously, I can’t help but think of the neighbor’s dog that was dyed key lime green.
If you like “exile” listen to “Appointments” by Julien Baker
Full disclosure: both of these songs make me bawl like a baby. Both songs are an open letter to an ex, which makes them feel especially personal. Baker mirrors Bon Iver’s side of the duet as they recall watching their lover leave, but channels Swift as she reconciles that it would be okay that they couldn’t salvage their relationships as long as they’re able to salvage themselves.
If you like “my tears ricochet” listen to “Berlin” by Fenne Lily
First of all, both of these songs make reference to ashes (“you’ll be made of ashes, too”/ “ash flying”), which is why I think my brain connected them together initially. After listening to Berlin a few more times, however, I realized that these two belong together because they’re both songs about learning how to be alone, and how the greatest growth can come from packing your bags and leaving home.
If you like “mirrorball” listen to “Dips” by Daisy the Great
Both of these songs just scream dancing around my bedroom while getting ready. They are similar musically and both appeal to the idea of being alone with the one you love.
If you like “seven” listen to “Speaking Terms” by Snail Mail
Musically reminiscent of “seven,” Snail Mail’s “Speaking Terms” is also about loving someone so much you want to save them. Both of the singers urge their listener to move, as they are in danger in their current house, but Snail Mail’s lyrics seem more mature. The songs seem to be talking about a similar situation as dealt with by a girl, ages seven and seventeen.
If you like “august” listen to “Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten
These songs are perfect for sing-screaming in your car. While this may have been an obvious connection, both narrators are nostalgic and critical of themselves at seventeen, which creates listening that is bittersweet and upbeat yet very personal, much like being seventeen.
If you like “this is me trying” listen to “Fire” by Waxahatchee
Both of these are softer songs that seems perfect for the emotional drive scene in an A24 movie. They both talk about wanting to be able to love someone the way they deserve to be loved. Bonus points for the lyrical connection between Waxahatchee’s “driving past places been tainted” and Swift’s “I have a lot of regrets about that pulled the car off the road to the lookout”.
If you like “illicit affairs” listen to “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers
The first time I heard this song I texted my best friend “PHOEBE BRIDGERS GHOSTWROTE THIS.” My love for these women and their music truly knows no bounds. I picked Motion Sickness for illicit affairs because the lyrics “don't call me "kid," don't call me "baby"…you taught me a secret language I can't speak with anyone else” are the only lyrics that have ever come close to making me feel what Phoebe Bridgers singing “I hate you for what you did and I miss you like a little kid…there are no words in the English language I could scream to drown you out” make me feel.
If you like “invisible string” listen to “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers
I know I just recommended a song by Phoebe Bridgers, but I promise they’re very different. “Punisher” is one of my favorite songs because of the incredible imagery, something which I think Taylor Swift perfected in “invisible” string.
If you like “mad woman” listen to “I Can Break Your Heart Too” by The Aces
Regardless of which song is your favorite, you should give “I Can Break Your Heart Too” a listen because it’s an incredible song full of acceptance, heartbreak, and a simile comparing love to a movie (much like every song on “folklore”). However, I chose “mad woman” for “I Can Break Your Heart Too” because they both call out the other party for not respecting them and driving them to this point of madness. I personally love the proclamation and recognition of their self-worth, and think that “I Can Break Your Heart Too” is perfect when you want something just a little more pop-sounding to break up your “folklore” album listening.
If you like “epiphany” listen to “First Love/Late Spring” by Mitski
Mitski is truly the queen of indie folk love songs and “First Love/Late Spring” is graphic and sad much like “epihany.” Both women discuss death, lack of sleep, and give their lover the power to hurt them by placing their faith in them. The songs are incredibly beautiful separately and I think only become more poignant together.
BONUS: “Francis Forever” by Mitski, if your favorite part of “folklore” is the idea of summer fading into fall.
If you like “betty” listen to “Furniture” by Maude Latour
Full disclosure: “betty” is my favorite song off of “folklore” and it was hard to find a song that makes me feel like “betty” does. However, “Furniture” feels like it was written in Betty’s perspective. She talks about how much she hates the party she’s at, how her ex loves new beginnings too much, and how she hated the news she got from Emma. It fits almost perfectly with James wondering how Betty would feel if he showed up to the party, getting in the car with a new girl, and the gossip he heard from Inez.
If you like “peace” listen to “Joshua Tree” by Rozzi
I feel like the connection between “Suddenly this summer, it’s clear” and “That summer, where the road went on forever” is enough to convince you that these two belong on a playlist together.
If you like “hoax” listen to “By Myself” by Maya Hawke
You probably know Maya Hawke as Robin in “Stranger Things,” but I can assure you that she is an incredible musician in her own right. “By Myself,” like “hoax,” is about believing in a toxic love even when it leaves you hanging. Both songwriters do an amazing job crafting poetry out of their lyrics and I think this is one pairing that should definitely be listened to back to back.
Hope you enjoy these recommendations, but if I catch you listening to folklore for the billionth time instead, it’s okay, I don’t blame you.