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Adoring ‘folklore’: Reviewing Taylor Swift’s New Album

Something insane happened on July 23, 2020. 

Without any cryptic posts, changes in social media themes or even a mention of a new single, Taylor Swift made the announcement of her eighth studio album just one day before the release of folklore. And now that I’ve had about a month to sit with the lyrical masterpiece that is TS8, I will share my personal review of the album in the tracklist order.


1. “the 1”: The first line of this song was already iconic because Taylor rarely swears in songs. For the album to begin with “I’m doing good, I’m on some new sh*t / been saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’,” it sets the tone for a cool change of pace. I’ll try not to get repetitive and say that every song is beautiful (because they all are), but damn, this song really is special.


2. “cardigan”: This song was the first music video Taylor released on July 24. It makes me want to wear exclusively big sweaters, sip mulled wine and cry over the feelings of the chorus of “and when I felt I was an old cardigan / under someone’s bed / you put me on and said I was your favorite.” Also, the music video is full of magic and whimsy.


3. “the last great american dynasty”: This song is a really interesting lyrical story of a young, prosperous woman who’s looking to have fun in a world she doesn’t truly fit in. With cute, catchy lines about her shenanigans, namely “she stole his dog and dyed it key-lime green,” this song is an easy one to dance to but harder to commit to memory like all good Swifties do. 


4. “exile” (ft Bon Iver): This was the first song to make me cry—scratch that, bawl—from the album. It’s a tale of lost love and the feelings that never quite go away when things feel unfinished. I’m absolutely destroyed during each listen with the lyrics “you’re not my homeland anymore / so what am I defending?” It is slow and haunting, and Bon Iver is such a great match for her vocals.


5. “my tears ricochet”: This song isn’t my favorite on the album, but the writing is still punchy, poignant and able to make me throw my abject body on the floor and wail.


6. “mirrorball”: If there was ever a moment to crank a song and twirl in your sparkliest dress, this is the number for you. It also makes my heart swell, imagining myself in a relationship where these lyrics apply: “but I’m still on my tallest tiptoes / spinning in my highest heels, love / shining just for you.”


7. “seven”: Sort of like #5, I don’t entirely connect with this song. It’s beautiful, but I haven’t listened to it as much as the other tracks. I do appreciate the reference to the album’s title with the lyric “and just like a folksong / our love will be passed on.”


8. “august”: YES. YES. SO MUCH YES. This song calls for a hairbrush in one hand for a mic and a bottle of bubbly in the other to belt out the lyric “August sipped away like a bottle of wine.” It’s upbeat and tells the story of perhaps a summer love that ended a bit too soon but was so full of light in the moments spent “twisted in bedsheets.”


9. “this is me trying”: I sobbed. The line “they told me all of my cages were mental / so I got wasted like my potential” really affected me and made me reflect on my life. It’s so hauntingly beautiful. 


10. “illicit affairs”: Taylor never ceases to disappoint with whole verses you can scream-cry and wreak havoc on your heart. The bridge of this track is no exception: “And you wanna scream / don’t call me ‘kid,’ don’t call me baby / look at this godforsaken mess that you made me / you showed me colors you know I can’t see with anyone else / don’t call me ‘kid,’ don’t call me ‘baby’ / look at this idiotic fool that you made me / you taught me a secret language I can’t speak with anyone else” which leads into the outro “and you know damn well / for you, I would ruin myself / a million little times.” BRB, buying stock in Kleenex, so I can keep this song on repeat. 


11. “invisible string”: This song is about Taylor falling in love with her current boo, Joe Alywn, and the journey their relationship took in significant locations. It’s a sweet dedication and one I find myself humming a lot. 


12. “mad woman”: This track is one I don’t super relate to, but it’s still a stunning work of writing from Tay. 


13. “epiphany”: Again, the waterworks were in full effect during this song which highlights the struggles of living in our current pandemic-affected world. Taylor writes about fighting alongside others; in a line that gives me chills, she wrote, “something med school did not cover / someone’s daughter, someone’s mother / holds your hand through plastic now.” It’s a woeful ballad about our world and clarity that has come from it.


14. “betty”: This song is so fun to belt out, and it’s an interesting sound from Taylor as well. It’s easily one of my favorites on the whole album.


15. “peace”: This track is much more somber. The chorus breaks my heart and puts it together again with “but I’m a fire and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm / if your cascade, ocean wave blues come / all these people think love’s for show / but I would die for you in secret.” 


16. “hoax”: For some reason, this song doesn’t satisfy my need for a strong end to the album. I can’t fault her, though, because it’s freaking beautiful and sad. I also can’t deny my love for “your faithless love’s the only hoax I believe in / don’t want no other shade of blue but you / no other sadness in the world would do.” I think it’s a beautiful way to wrap up that love can hurt sometimes.


I hope you all enjoyed my review of folklore and give TS8 a listen!


My name is Hannah Hippensteel, and I like to say I'm a Chicago city-slicker, but I'm actually from the 'burbs. I'm currently a senior at Winona State with a major in mass communication-journalism and a minor in sociology. Catch me enjoying all Winona has to offer: the bluffs, the incomparable Bloedow's Bakery, and not to mention, Minnesota boys. With a goal of working at Teen Vogue, Seventeen or Glamour magazine, I'm soaking up every opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse and share my personal voice!
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