On July 24, 2020, Taylor Swift released a surprise album called Folklore, less than a year after her previous album, Lover. This album is full of folk and indie music, making it a new venture for Taylor Swift that fans and newcomers alike are sure to enjoy.
Taylor isn’t new to switching genres – she started as a country music writer with her eponymous album in 2006 and later became a pop artist in 2012 with the release of Red. Folklore shows Taylor’s mastery of a new genre of music that feels more down to earth than her previous ventures and uses more classical instruments.
Taylor Swift has always been a great songwriter, as seen by albums like Speak Now which she wrote entirely by herself without the help of co-writers. This new album is also full of Taylor’s voice (albeit with some co-writers) and really exemplifies Taylor’s skills as a storyteller. Unlike previous albums that had songs about Taylor’s real life and romances where you often know which of her famous ex’s the songs were about, Folklore is full of enchanting fictional stories.
Part of Folklore details a love triangle between three teens; Betty, Inez, and James. “Cardigan” is from Betty’s point of view, “August” is from Inez’s, and “Betty” is from James’s point of view. While Taylor hasn’t confirmed which songs cover the story, these three seem to link together, and it’s interesting to hear how they coincide and tell a story collectively.
Taylor also released a music video for “Cardigan” that was made entirely in quarantine (Taylor even joked about how she had to do her own hair and makeup). Taylor is the only person seen in the video but it is still captivating, including multiple different settings; a forest, a cottage-like bedroom, and the ocean.
Some of my favorite songs on the album are "Betty," "Invisible String," and "Exile." "Betty" feels rustic, using harmonica and acoustic guitar and depicting emotional longing while still keeping an upbeat tone. It feels like something that could be on Fearless or one of Taylor’s earlier country albums. “Invisible String” is a soft love song, telling the story of little coincidences that connect a couple together. “Exile,” featuring Bon Iver, is more of a sad story that has a couple seeing each other after a breakup and recounting their past times together. It’s a haunting duet that's earned its place on the album.
After Folklore, I’m curious to see what Taylor Swift is going to do next: whether she’ll release more Alternative/Folk/Indie music or if she goes back to Pop, or does something else entirely. Whatever it is, I’m excited to see it, and I hope she keeps telling us interesting stories.