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The Saratoga Falcon

Woodsy-themed album ‘folklore’ exposes new side of Taylor Swift’s song writing

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Dressed in a faded white nightgown, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift sings by a worn piano in a dark-lit cellar in her latest music video, “Cardigan.” Swift is pulled into a magical forest where she struggles to stay afloat in a flooding river. The alluring video ends with the artist finding her way back to the cellar, a cardigan waiting by the piano to keep her warm. 

This video premiered on July 23, the same day Swift announced the surprise release of her latest album, “folklore,” on Instagram. 

Swift, now 30 years old, used quarantine as an opportunity to write an album without judgment from outside sources and to let her imagination run free in her songwriting. “folklore,” her untraditionally released eighth studio album was a surprise not only to her fans, but also her own record label company, Universal Music Group, which became aware of the release only days before it occurred. The album was highly successful, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Featuring a guest appearance by the band Bon Iver, “folklore” consists of 16 alternative songs that tell stories of vulnerability and heartbreak. The stories range from the history of Swift’s house in Rhode Island in the song “the last great american dynasty” to Swift’s grandfather’s experience in World War II with the song “epiphany.” 

Fans responded to this new era of music with positive reviews, eager to discover this new side of Swift’s writing. Music critics responded similarly, with the album receiving a score of 100 out of 100 in multiple reviews from publications like Entertainment, The Telegraph and The Guardian. 

Along with the wave of positive reviews also came criticisms of the songs’ slow — and some called “boring” — melodies, which contrasted Swift’s usual pop records.  

Some critics have expressed their awe at how every song manages to contrast yet complement one another. They all evoke a similar feeling that Swift called “beautiful and tragic” in the album description due to the motifs of layered vocals and dynamic strings. 

Swift admirably creates a complex love triangle from three lovers’ points of view in the songs “betty,” “cardigan” and “august.” “august” was especially memorable as it describes the situation from the perspective of “the other woman,” an often overlooked point of view, as she discovers the truth that she is nothing more than a summer fling. 

Along with integrating complex lyrics into every track, “folklore” also contains a variety of musical styles. Songs such as “the 1” and “invisible string” nod to Swift’s previous pop records. Others, like “the lakes” have a ‘60s influence with vinyl sound effects. Meanwhile, “betty” revisits Swift’s country roots with a harmonica woven into the melody. 

“folklore” gives listeners a peek into the different sides of the singer-songwriter. To her fans, this album only emphasizes the reason for her success in the field. To people who only know Swift by her popular hits on the radio, this album opens the door to a lesser-known side of one of the most well-known singers. 


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