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Review of Taylor Swift’s “folklore: the long pond studio sessions”

Taylor Swift made this horrific year a little bit better back in July when she surprise released her eighth studio album, folklore. She once again blessed us over Thanksgiving when she released folklore: the long pond studio sessions, a documentary about the new album that included musical performances of all seventeen songs! There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get into it. 

First off, Long Pond Studios was an absolutely gorgeous setting. Located in upstate New York, it’s situated in a pretty forest that perfectly encapsulated the fairylike and mystical themes of the album. The cozy atmosphere from the bonfire to the twinkle lights could be felt through the screen—I enjoyed watching the movie snuggled up in my blankets and drinking a steaming mug of hot cocoa. 

The live performances were so fun to watch, especially because we weren’t sure at first if we’d ever get to hear this album live in due to the current state of the world. We do not get to hear Taylor sing live nearly as often as I would like, so having this entire documentary plus the studio sessions on all music streaming services is incredibly exciting. 

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Taylor does not get enough credit for the richness of her voice. She hit the high notes beautifully in “august,” showed off her smooth lower register in “mad woman,” and captured the delicate feel of “cardigan” gracefully through her vocals. 

The performances were all wonderful, but I think my favorites would have to be “my tears ricochet” and “august.” “my tears ricochet” was just so tragically beautiful. Taylor expressed such raw sadness in the song, enough to give me literal goosebumps.

With “august,” she did the opposite. The song perfectly captured the feeling of “living for the hope of it all,” as she sings. The instrumentals in it especially created the blindly joyful sentiment that “august” emanates so well. 

The best part of the documentary, though, was definitely hearing what all of the songwriters had to say about the songs. It’s very rare that we get to hear artists talk about the inspiration of each song on an album, so I was really excited to hear everything they had to say.

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One of the most interesting tidbits was what Taylor had to say about “this is me trying,” which I’d argue is one of the best songs on the album. She said that she’d been thinking about people who suffer from addiction or mental illness and how every day is a battle for them not to fall into those ailments. 

Describing the first verse, Taylor said that she was going with the idea of a person contemplating suicide after having dealt with failure after failure. “Someone who is in sort of a life crisis,” she said in the documentary, “...has driven to this overlook, this cliff, and is just in the car going, ‘I could, like...I could do whatever I want in this moment and it could affect everything forever.’ But this person backs up and drives home.” 

In the second verse, Taylor brought in the theme of addiction. “I was thinking about this person who is really lost in life,” she said, “And then starts drinking and every second is trying not to.” 

She said herself when the album released that she focused more on telling other people’s stories as opposed to her own, so I really loved that the long pond studio sessions shed some light on what those stories were and why she felt compelled to tell them. 

Some fun facts about the record were revealed, too! We learned the mysterious co-writer of “exile” and “betty” is Joe Alwyn, with whom Taylor is in a serious relationship. Even cooler, we learned that, according to Taylor, Betty (the narrator of "cardigan") and James (the narrator of "betty") actually end up together, which I would not have guessed! 

In summary, the combination of the documentarian aspects with the musical performances made for a really great film. We may not be able to hear folklore in concert anytime soon, but I, for one, am very happy to have the studio sessions to watch and listen to while we wait.

Nimra studies International Affairs and Journalism at the University of Georgia. She's a first-generation Pakistani-American who loves reading, astrology, Taylor Swift, and daydreaming.
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