“Folklore” Review


Emily Yoon, Gaby Lesmana, and Kimberly Ayson

   Taylor Swift shook the world with an unexpected album release on July 24. Contrary to her past carefully-thought-out and highly anticipated releases, Swift announced “folklore” less than 24 hours before it made its way into the homes of millions.

   If Swift’s record-shattering album “Red” showed the world Swift’s transformation from a country artist to a pop princess, “folklore” introduced her hand at more contemporary and mellow ballads. Though Swift is well-known for her pop-inspired heartbreak anthems, “folklore” strayed far away from the norm with a mellow indie-folk sound.

   Clinging to the theme of storytelling magic, Swift stated on Instagram: “I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down.”

    Proud “Swiftie” and West Ranch junior Keely Young weighed in on the album: “As an avid fan of Taylor’s for the past eleven years, it’s safe to say that ‘folklore’ was something I never expected from her,” Young eagerly shared in an interview. “Whether it’s ‘illicit affairs’ and the soft acoustic guitar, or ‘peace’ and its storyline, I find myself constantly reaching for this album, and this album alone. Between the storylines and the instrumentals, ‘folklore’ is a masterpiece among masterpieces.” 

   While some of us have spent our quarantine watching Netflix and baking banana bread, Swift wrote, recorded and produced an entire album while dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. With medical supervision, she was even able to safely shoot a music video for the album’s lead single, “cardigan.” Since its release in late July, “folklore” has maintained multiple coveted #1 spots on the Billboard charts.

   The album embodies a lighthearted yet somber mood as Swift reminisces in her lyrics. Among the most-talked-about songs are “august,” an upbeat tribute to brief summer flings; “exile” featuring Bon Iver, an emotional ballad about a toxic relationship coming to an end; and “betty,” a country-esque nod to Taylor’s roots as she sings from the perspective of a teenage boy apologizing for his mistakes. 

   Through carefully crafted imagery “folklore” paints the picture of failed relationships and new beginnings. This theme is nothing new to Taylor Swift fans, but Swift approaches the narratives in “folklore” with new lenses. Though Swift has drawn exclusively from her own experiences in past albums, she writes “folklore” songs from the eyes of  a seventeen-year-old boy learning to apologize, his two wounded lovers, a World War 2-era soldier and more. 

   Swift aptly calls this album her “escapism chapter.” Whereas “Reputation” focuses on revenge and “Lover” on healing, “folklore” tells stories of people running away—emotionally and physically—to escape their problems. From her most iconic albums like “Red,” “Reputation” and most recently “Lover,” each and every album has brought out new sides of Taylor. This certainly doesn’t exclude “folklore.”

   Personal favorite songs on the album include: “my tears ricochet,” a poignant song rumored to be about Swift’s nasty experiences with her former record label. Another, “illicit affairs,” talks about a forbidden romance between a married man and his lover. And “mirrorball” is a bittersweet ode about craving love and attention. 

   “folklore” has proved to be a welcome escape in this seemingly-never-ending period of isolation. The unexpected release was surely a pleasant surprise to those needing positivity the most during this time. “The times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world,” Swift said on Instagram.

   With the tour for her last album, “Lover,” being cancelled, there are no current plans for concerts or shows anytime soon. That doesn’t stop Swift’s dedicated fans from breaking statistical records and getting the album to the top of the charts. From her multiple genre shifts to creating a majorly successful album in the midst of a pandemic, it shows that Swift’s music stays meaningful in people’s lives no matter what they’re going through.