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Taylor Swift folklore

Taylor Swift leaves the pop world behind with this lyrically-acclaimed indie record.

Released: 24 July 2020

Last year, Taylor Swift was one of the busiest pop stars in the industry. She had exposed the exploitation of young artists by powerful male executives, released her seventh studio album and signed a Netflix deal. America’s own Covid-19 lockdown had left her with the most spare time she has had since her career began 14 years ago. Her response? Quarantine writing sessions.

These sessions were assembled for her eighth studio album, folklore. The effort, announced less than 24 hours before its drop, is a dark contrast to the themes of intimacy on her previous album, Lover. Like the shock of the sudden release, the album itself is something completely unexpected from a renowned pop star.

folklore sees Swift set foot in the worlds of indie and folk. The influences, drawn from some of alternative music’s biggest names, are undeniable. But this is no surprise, considering the album features Bon Iver, The National’s Aaron Dessner and Swift’s long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff.

To suggest Swift doesn’t have the talent to enter unexplored genres would be naïve. After all, she shifted from country to pop between her fourth and fifth studio albums, Red and 1989.

Opening track ‘the 1’ sets the tone for the following 15 songs. The subtlety of the acoustic instrumental leaves space for Swift’s lyricism to shine. Though lyrics have never been a weak point for Swift - her most lyrically-acclaimed song, ‘All Too Well’, is from Red, released in 2012 - folklore is a space entirely dedicated to her talent as a songwriter, while her previous seven releases were more spaces to celebrate upbeat pop music.

Despite the clear differences from her back-catalogue, long-time fans will not be isolated by Swift’s new approach. At times, folklore is nostalgic of her past work. ‘cardigan’, for instance, bares similarities to ‘Call It What You Want’ from Reputation.

In all, this album showcases Taylor Swift the storyteller, rather than Taylor Swift the pop star. Fans know Swift has always been a lyrical talent, but folklore will help her reach that conclusion herself.

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