Come on, Skinny Love, just last the year.
These lyrics conjure an emotion. More than that, they can soothe, they can bite, they can heal, and they can love.
When Taylor Swift touches pen to paper, she’s usually doing all of these things, and she’s doing it in a pop song. The difficulty of actually saying something on a pop track, that’s something special. To take a step away from the lights and the fame and return to nature? That’s something else.
So to hear that Taylor Swift put out an indie-folk album for quarantine times?
It’s like, “Where do I sign up?!”
T Swift has always been an assassin with an acoustic guitar, and as skilled as a surgeon with the pen. The girl knows how to write songs that will cut you to your emotional core, and keep you coming back for more. Whatever your opinions on her, she is a pop music Mozart.
Now that arenas are shut down, along with members of Bon Iver and The National, Taylor made her most personal and visceral album yet. Like the album cover, folklore, is much like a walk in the woods. It’s seeing the forest for the trees. It’s taking a deep breath when things seem most hectic. It’s a true return to form, and it’s brilliant.
The lead single is “Cardigan,” which is a slow burn, built around acoustic guitars, ruminating synths, and Swift’s voice, laid heavenly atop it all.
“These hands had to let it go free, and this love came back to me” Swift swoons as the song builds and builds until it bursts.
“Exile” features the man of the woods himself, Bon Iver. It sounds a lot like you’d expect a T Swift / Bon Iver collab to sound like- it’s extraordinarily beautiful. Swift’s voice is teeming with soul, and it’s almost like the heartbreak she’s feeling can be transferred through the music and injected straight to the heart. She’s really laying it all out on this album, and then the addition of Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, takes it to the next level.
For Swift, quarantine was a moment to slow down. Like Vernon did, when he recorded his revelatory “For Emma, Forever Ago,” there is a reason behind the isolation. There is comfort in the solace. Peace in the silence.
Folklore may be Swift’s bravest album yet. It doesn’t sound like a pop album, it sounds like a woman, not a girl, getting her emotions out on the page like never before. She’s back with guitar in hand, ready to lay it all out on the line. It’s refreshing and it’s solemn. It’s comfortable like an old hoodie or a fire on a winter night.
In a day and age where everything carries it’s barbs, news hits like a dagger, and kindness is kicked to the curb like yesterday’s garbage, Swift somehow picks up the pieces of it all and creates something extraordinarily beautiful.
On folklore, Swift makes her proclaimation, just as Bon Iver did so many years ago:
“And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And in the morning I’ll be with you
But it will be a different kind
And I’ll be holding all the tickets
And you’ll be owning all the fines”