Album Review: Taylor Swift - Evermore

It’s Thursday morning and I’m on the way into a meeting with my boss, who just arrived at work a few moments ago; it’s not even 8 a.m. yet and before I even have the chance to sit down for our discussion, she, casually, says, “Hey, did you see Taylor Swift is releasing something tonight?”

I more or less refuse to sit down, and will not let our meeting begin until I can get more information—“WHAT?” I exclaim to her. “HOLD ON HOLD ON HOLD ON,” my phone in one hand, frantically opening up Taylor Swift’s Instagram page, the other pointed out with my index finger making the “give me a minute” motion. And under a photo of the back of Swift’s head, her hair in a French braid, donning a heavy flannel overcoat, it is explained that she will be releasing her ninth album at 11 p.m. Central Time. 

Titled Evermore, it’s described as a ‘sister’ project to Folklore, the effort she put out a mere four months prior, and had recently revisited via the stripped down arrangements in the “Longpond Sessions” special for Disney+.

The news leaves me shook—a weird feeling of excitement that I am no longer used to. Am I….actually looking forward to something? Is this what that feels like?

I couldn’t make it until 11 p.m., the last time around, when Folklore arrived at the end of July, and even though I know it’s not the wisest decision, based on how little sleep I already get on an average night, and knowing full well what time I wake up in the mornings, I push it—and managed to make it through half of the album after appears on Thursday evening before realizing it was entirely too late for someone my age to be awake.

And also, if we’re being honest, at a certain point, I just became too sad—like, I realized it was too late for me to be feeling this much, and I needed to call it a night. 

The easiest way to describe Evermore is that it is a companion piece, or continuation, to Folklore. Comprised of 15 songs (with two additional songs available on the physical iterations of the record), the material is not simply leftovers from the Folklore sessions. These are new songs, written and recorded in the summer and into the autumn. Swift explains that she and collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff ‘couldn’t stop writing songs,’ and much like its ‘sister’ record Folklore, it is a continued product of the difficult, isolated times we are all still living in. A majority of Evermore was recorded remotely by its myriad contributors, the exception being Swift’s vocals, which according to the album credits, were recorded at Dessner’s Longpond Studios in New York, as opposed to being tracked at her own home in California. 

Folklore was, and still is of course, an impressive and fascinating album, and the Disney+special actually made me appreciate parts of it even more than I had before, when just listening to the record. It’s tough to even objectively compare the two albums, because they are so connected through the people responsible for making them, the times they were created in, and through the lyrical themes present across the both; however, it is apparent to me almost immediately that Evermore is a much more daring and confident album. 

There were risks on Folklore, yes, but here, Swift and her collaborators are willing to take greater risks sonically, and across its hour running time, you can feel the way the balance in songwriting and aesthetic is continually pushed, pulled, and shifted. It’s an album that brazenly walks the lines between Swift’s pop and country pasts, while crashing into textural and dramatic arranging of Aaron Dessner. There are times when it seems like it simply isn’t going to work, or that it’s just too much or pushes things too far—but it surprisingly lands every single time.

Often, I refer to albums as being ‘damn near perfect,’ but rarely, if ever, am I in a place where I feel confident in admitting an album’s perfection. The thing about Evermore, though, is that even when in the few places it falters, it does so gracefully enough that it, upon additional listens, is something that is easy to look beyond or come to have a better acceptance of. And in sitting with the album, uninterrupted, from beginning to end, as the final notes of the harrowing title track settle, it became so very obvious to me that Evermore is a perfect record.


From the moment it opens with the album’s first single, “Willow,” in one way or another, Evermore is unrelenting until the end; unrelenting in both the dramatic, effective, and effortless shifts in aesthetic, as well as the way Swift, as a songwriter, continually blurs the lines in her lyrics between fact, fiction, and the spaces where those converge. The run of the first five songs, alone, is a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, alongside a study in deliberate and thoughtful detail to the pacing, structure, and sharp contrasts within the instrumentation and arranging. Of course the songs are all about ‘love,’ at their core, or at least, are about relationships, but Swift and her collaborators create a wildly oscillating, tumultuous back and forth between excitement, regret, and sorrow.

The thing that is most surprising, right from the beginning on “Willow,” as well as on the album’s pulsating third track, “Gold Rush,” is the way Swift brings her big pop instincts and aesthetics into these somewhat reserved sounding songs, creating a unexpected and highly enjoyable (and palpable) sense of tension—less so on “Gold Rush,” co-written and produced by pop impresario Jack Antonoff. When the shimmery intro to the song gives way to an intentionally slithering rhythm and Swift’s sultry lyrical delivery, which then gives way to a sweeping, swooning refrain, it is a little less astonishing as the pop slink and big hook Swift manages to cram into “Willow,” set against the glistening and plucked acoustic guitars from Aaron Dessner. 

These moments of lusty pure pop perfection, even as restrained as they appear in the context of the album, are among the most fun and energizing on the record—try not dipping your shoulders in time to the beat as Swift repeats the titular phrase in “Gold Rush”; these moments, however, are starkly juxtaposed against the isolation and resentment from a May-December relationship depicted in the jittering, haunting “Tolerate It,” the desperate loneliness, regret, and wonder from reconnecting with a former partner while home for the holidays found in the moody “’Tis The Damn Season,” and the dizzying, thrilling grandeur of “Champagne Problems,” which casts Swift as the protagonist who has a sudden change of mind when her college sweetheart proposes, and the ripples it causes after, as she puts it in the breathless refrain to the song, “Dropped your hand while dancing/left you out there standing/crestfallen on the landing.”


I’m not sure at what point Swift, in the early portion of her career, truly left behind ‘country’ music to embrace pop music. More than likely it was somewhere between the eras of Speak Now, which turned a decade old this year, and its bombastic follow up, Red. Since the line between contemporary country music and pop music is an inherently blurry one based both on my knowledge of what was considered ‘country’ in the 1990s and into the 2000s, as well as was is depicted as country music today, Swift may have taken a step away from the genre for a number of years, but on both Folklore and especially on Evermore, she, at times is slowly inching her way back, or at least, embracing that part of her songwriting once again.

“Betty,” the strummy, profanity ladened song from Folklore was the most ‘country’ or truly ‘folk’ thing on the album, based on the instrumentation alone. This time around, on Evermore, about a quarter of the album finds Swift and her collaborators rediscovering the twang.

It’s most apparent, from the title alone obviously, on the simmering “Cowboy Like Me,” the gorgeous, incredibly pensive and autumnal slow dance about two grifters falling in love that begins with one of the most simple, yet evocative, opening lines I can recall in recent memory; it’s also most apparent on the tack that arrives right before it—“Ivy,” featuring noticeable backing vocals contributed by Justin Vernon (who appears quite a bit throughout the album), it is the only song on the record with writing credits attributed to Swift, Antonoff, and Dessner. Even as a twangy, acoustic shuffle about the subtle tensions that lead to an affair, it is surprisingly among the most fun, or invigorating, on Evermore, thanks to the shout-a-long refrain that begins with, “Oh, goddamn—my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand,” and the strength of the song’s bridge.

Swift’s re-interest in country stylings on Evermore also appear on the story song “Dorothea,” which continues in the same vein of, but is explicitly, according to Swift, not a continuation of the love triangle depicted across three songs on Folklore—it is told from the perspective of the boy who gets left behind in the small town, as the girl leaves to chase her dreams: “Hey Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?,” the song begins. “You got shiny friend since you left town/a tiny screen’s the only place I see you now—and I got nothing but well wishes for ya.” 

And outside of the very apparent western theme of “Cowboy Like Me,” perhaps the most startling turn on Evermore comes in the form of the classic country music trope—a woman’s tale of revenge. Carrie Underwood did it with “Two Black Cadillacs,” and perhaps The (Dixie) Chicks did it best with their iconic “Goodbye Earl,” which ends with song’s titular, abusive antagonist being poisoned. 

In Swift’s hands, “No Body, No Crime”—the only song on the album attributed solely to her as writer—is dark, yes, but is also playful enough to maintain a sense of humor (albeit a macabre one.) On the song, Swift is joined by two members of the group Haim—Danielle and Este contribute while guitarist Alana is inexplicably absent, and in Swift’s narrative, Este’s convinced her husband is having an affair, and when she attempts to call him out on it, she goes missing. The song’s third verse, and continually shifting refrain, finds Swift on a quest to avenge her friend’s death, which she does subtly by mentioning knowing how to drive a boat, and how to clean something enough in order to ‘cover up a scene.’


The thing that runs throughout Evermore, and also was very present on Folklore, is not so much a ‘darkness,’ but a very tangible, at times visceral, feeling of melancholy, often which manifests most noticeably in the album’s quietest moments.

And in those moments of melancholy, or quiet, Evermore, whether intentional or not (presumably intentional because Swift’s catalog is filled with call backs to itself) features songs that are similar to pieces from Folklore, both in design, and theme.

A friend of mine from high school who, for roughly the last two years, I’ve had an on-going, mostly music based exchange with, told me her favorite song off of Evermore was “Happiness.” We were having a back and forth about Sufjan Stevens—specifically how she really liked his most recent album, and how I didn’t really fuck with him that much, but I saw a lot of similarities between The Ascension, and his 2010 anti-folk, electro-tinged The Age of Adz. 

I also added I might not be in the right place to give it a fair listen since I was entirely too immersed in Taylor Swift.

“Happiness” splits Evermore in half. I hesitate to call it musically ‘directionless,’ but it is a song that is very, very loose in its structure, at least in the beginning—similar the meditative “Peace,” from Folklore. And what I found about “Peace” is that I came to appreciate it a lot more after watching Swift perform it with both Antonoff and Dessner in the room with her in the “Longpond Sessions” 

Thought it doesn’t initially seem like it, because it is one of the album’s most quiet moments, “Happiness” is one of Evermore’s riskiest pieces, sonically speaking, simply based on how it begins with a bunch of low, warm, synthesizers tones that give way to more elements tumbling in, including piano and string flourishes, and lyrically, it is one of the album’s most contemplative. “All the years I’ve given is just shit we’re diving up,” Swift confesses in the song’s first verse, as she walks the narrative through the painful dissolution of a lengthy relationship, but in doing so, introduces the idea of personal growth for herself, as well as her former partner eventually meeting somebody else, by playing with the multiple meanings of the line, “You haven’t met the new me yet.”

Among the elements that make Swift such an excellent songwriter is her ability to both create very realistic, accessible fictions, but also her willingness to include large parts of herself in her songs. 

On Folklore, she explored the trauma her grandfather experienced in World War II, on the eerie, slow motion “Epiphany.” Here, on the glitchy, haunting yet hopeful, “Marjorie,” she reflects on her grandmother, an opera singer whom Swift credits as an inspiration and influence to pursue her career. Marjorie Finlay passed away in 2003, but is credited as providing background vocals on the track—buried in the swirling mix, as the song continues to build, when Swift delivers the line, “And if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were singing to me now,” her grandmother’s singing voice, under the cloak of ghostly reverb, echoes in the distance. 

Though it is not one of the album’s more quiet or meditative moments, but much like the surprising instrumentation of “Marjorie” and “Happiness,” Swift’s willingness to push herself in borderline experimental directions culminates in the album’s penultimate track, “Closure.”

Throughout Evermore, the densely layered and intricate musicality of the album, thanks in part to her collaborators Dessner and Antonoff, is admirable, but none of it really prepares the listener for a Taylor Swift song that is built around a dissonant, sharp noise loop—something that is pure Aaron Dessner, and it’s something that, at first listen, you wouldn’t think would work as fluttering blips find their way underneath the harsh, distended, almost industrial sounding drum pattern—all of which is contrasted against the sound of the piano coming in, and Swift’s gentle voice. 

Musically, the song becomes a volatile, excited give and take between those contrasts, with the piano being the primary instrument to carry through, with the skittering, metallic clang continuing to bubble up underneath.

And perhaps it’s the song’s caustic atmosphere that allows Swift to, lyrically, match it, as she details the raw emotions of a protagonist struggling with the idea of giving a former partner the ‘closure’ they desperately want. And out of all the jaw dropping lines Swift manages to pen across Evermore, “Closure” includes one of her finest—“Don’t treat me like some situation that needs to be handled,” she commands at the beginning of the song’s second verse. 


I understand why ‘real’ music writers wrote what I would call “rushed” reviews, or responses, to Evermore. The albums was revealed and released with little to no warning, which is not the kind of thing that lends itself to promotional copies being sent out to music journalists in advance, so a review can coincide with the street date of the album. 

And in an effort to respond to it in a timely fashion while it is still something on the forefront of everybody’s mind, sites like Consequence of Sound and the poorman’s Pitchfork Stereogum shared takes on it less than 24 hours after its release; Pitchfork waited four days before sharing their review, and what all of these reviews have missed the point of, or maybe it’s better to say they’ve missed the gravity of, is the song “Coney Island.”

Was I contractually obligated to love “Coney Island”? No—I mean, you’d think that would be the case, but I’m at a point now where I am willing to admit when something I want to like doesn’t work out, and the truth is that Swift’s collaboration with all five members of The National could have absolutely not landed in the way that I wanted it to. 

But that simply isn’t the case.

Stereogum’s Tom Breihan1 called it the album’s ‘dourest’ moment; CoS writer Mary Siroky stated the track wasn’t as wondrous as the name implies, but neglects to elaborate on why; and Pitchfork’s Sam Sodomsky says The National’s iconic frontman, Matt Berninger, sounds out of place when singing alongside Swift.

But that simply isn’t the case.

The thing about Evermore is, yes, it is a very melancholic album (as was Folklore), and yes, there are moments throughout that are slightly less self-reflective or somber, and are actually fun, but the album, as a whole, and it should come as no surprise to you this far into the review (over 2,500 words) and it should come as no surprise if you have any working knowledge about Swift, or Evermore, but this album is emotional. And Swift manages to pack perhaps the most emotion humanly possible into two distinct moments—one of them being the unfairly maligned “Coney Island.”

The playful flack that Folklore caught right away was what it sounded like hearing Swift’s voice against Dessner’s production and arranging—there were myriad jokes about the album sounding, at times, like Swift was singing over National songs. 

And here, she kind of is. 

“Coney Island” broods the kind of way that only a National song can—it’s practically claustrophobic in the tension that the group creates, and manages to maintain through the entire song. And as you might expect, there is no release—the song just ruminates, and swirls, like a storm cloud threatening in the distance. But in that tension, there is a fragile, spectral beauty that cuts through the music, yes, but also in the heartbreaking way that Swift and Berninger deliver the song’s narrative.

Like so many of the songs on Evermore, “Coney Island” is about reflection and regret, but not reconciliation, and the depiction of the fractured relationship in it is, in a word, graphic. “If this is the long haul, how’d we get here so soon?,” Swift asks in the first verse, before delving one of the most gutting expressions on the entire album: “Did I close my fist around something delicate—did I shatter you?

Structurally, “Coney Island” has a conversational feeling to the way Swift and Berninger sing, though it’s not a conversation with each other—more regret ladened inner monologues between the two parties involved while they are both staring down the cold truth about their relationship and how it appears to have run its course. 

What’s a lifetime of achievement if I pushed you too the edge but you were too polite to leave me,” Berninger asks in the second verse.

What struck me the first time I listened to “Coney Island,” and what strikes me every single time after that, is how in control Swift and The National are of the song—the music, yes, creates the sense of despondent friction that they never let dissolve, but vocally, neither Berninger nor Swift allow their voices to rise above a certain point, giving an unsettling calm to their performances.

 And if Swift’s line about shattering another person is one of the most charged on the record, Berninger’s contribution in the song’s bridge is one of the most personally upsetting: “Did I paint your bluest skies the darkest grey?

I am uncertain what anyone was anticipating from a collaboration between Swift and the members of The National, or why “Coney Island,” for seemingly a number of people, isn’t it. 

But that simply isn’t the case.

“Coney Island” is it, taking evocative imagery and storytelling to—I hesitate to say ‘a new height’ considering just how low the depths of this song pulls you, but even in doing that, it finds the right balance between a delicate beauty, a threatening darkness, an awful pang of remorse you cannot shake, and a tension that is never resolved.


From the way the cavernous opening piano notes echo out slowly and sadly at the beginning of ‘Evermore,” it should be clear this is the other moment where Swift has managed to force as much emotion as she is able to into a song.

There are times throughout the album when it is more obvious when Swift’s songwriting is based in fiction, and “Evermore” is one of the occasions when it is apparent how based on fact it is—“Marjorie” aside, “Evermore” is one of the album’s most personal, and personally reflective songs. It isn’t a confessional, though, not directly, as Swift gracefully uses a poetic ambiguity in her depictions of what appears to be depression.

On the Genius page for “Evermore,” there is a link to a Lover-era story where Swift discussed her mental health in a radio interview. She stops short of using the ‘D’ word, but admits to long periods of feeling low, or ‘really bad.’ Mental health is something that is also discussed between Swift, Antonoff, and Dessner in the conversational, ‘behind the song’ portions of the Longpond Sessions” special. 

“Evermore,” even before Swift’s voice comes in, has the kind of somber atmosphere that captivates. “Gray November, I’ve been down since July,” Swift begins, as she walks through the imagery of her melancholy. “I replay my footsteps on each stepping stone, trying to find the one where I went wrong,” she continues.

And it’s in the song’s refrain that I guess I knew—I thought I knew what this song was about for Swift; I knew what this song meant to me; and I knew that, much like “Coney Island,” which ruined me emotionally the first time I sat down with it—I knew that “Evermore” was one of those songs. “I was catching my breath, staring out an open window, catching my death,” she sings. “And I couldn’t be sure, I had a feeling so peculiar that this pain would be for evermore.” 

And if you could believe it, it becomes more personally upsetting from there—“Hey, December, guess I’m feeling unmoored,” Swift sings softly at the second verse begins. “Can’t remember what I used to fight for.”

For Swift, though, after an absolutely chaotic and fervent interlude featuring Justin Vernon, which seemingly pulls you out of the song and into something else entirely, there is hope, or at least some resolution, as she changes the lyrics slightly near the conclusion of the song, conceding that the pain won’t be for evermore. 


The original release of Folklore concluded with the somber, uneasy piano ballad “Hoax,” but as Swift describes in the “Longpond Sessions” special, after she thought the album was done, she realized it wasn’t really done, and the physical iterations of the album (CD, and the recently issued vinyl pressing) include a ‘bonus track,’ an epilogue or afterward of sorts, “The Lakes,” which doesn’t really change, or alter, the ending or overall feeling of the record by all that much—it makes it slightly less heavy, and gives it a tiny glimmer of hope, or optimism.

There are handful of ways that Folklore and Evermore are similar, and my guess is all of those are very intentional. In the end, they both wind up being 17 tracks long each—with the physical edition of Evermore (the CD arriving one week after the album was released digitally, the vinyl edition due, probably, in March or April of 2021) tacking on an extra two songs after the tumultuous titular track.

“Evermore,” is, truthfully, the proper conclusion to this album; the two additional songs do not serve as an epilogue, but rather a reprieve of sorts from the sheer torrent of emotion from the songs that came before them. “Right Where You Left Me,” the first of the two additional songs, sees Swift slipping back into the twang that she explored through other parts of Evermore. The uptempo nature is a slight shock to the system arriving after something so harrowing, and “Right Where You Left Me,” details the narrative of someone who was on the receiving end of a break up—playing with the idea of being ‘stuck’ both literally and figuratively in the moment where things ended. “Help, I’m still at the restaurant,” Swift sings in the refrain. “Sitting in the corner I haunt.” Then a few lines later, “I swear you could hear a pin drop right when I felt the moment stop. Glass shattered on the white cloth—everybody moved on; I stayed there.”

The other ‘bonus’ track, “It’s Time to Go,” is slightly more personal—opening with a series of unfortunate vignettes that provide examples of when someone knows it’s time to go. Set over restrained instrumentation, the rhythm isn’t exactly ‘jaunty,’ but there is a lot of glitchy enthusiasm in there, which provides and interesting contrast to the examples Swift rattles off until she gets to the song’s punchline about her on going feud with entertainment mogul Scooter Braun, head of Big Machine Records, and currently the owner of the master recordings to Swift’s first six albums. She has been very vocal about her disappointment in the situation, and makes little, if any effort, to hide her continued disdain: “I gave it my all, he gave me nothing at a all, then wondered why I left,” Swift says before admitting she has more or less come to terms with it as best as she is able to: “He’s got my past frozen behind glass, but I’ve got me.”

These additional songs are not ‘bad,’ and maybe, with a little bit of effort, could have been sequenced within the album, and not arriving after what is designated as the very clear conclusion. They feel a little less thoughtful, or not as developed, as the other songs on Evermore, but are by no means detrimental to the quality of the album, as a whole, and are worth sitting down with. 


The thing I have learned this year about Taylor Swift as a lyricist, and maybe should have known before this year, or maybe had the slightest notion of before this year, is that she can really turn a phrase. Like, really turn one.

There are examples of this throughout her canon, obviously, but since both Folklore and Evermore are both so heavily steeped in emotion, there are phrasings and lines that have a lot more weight attached to them, and really stay with you long after the song, or even the album, has concluded.

With that said, she does off-set this emotional weight with the occasional, knowing wink to the audience—something that takes a shit load of confidence to have, like in the bridge to “Willow,” when, without even batting an eyelash, she utters, “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind; but I come back stronger than a ‘90s trend”; or when she casually references the Olive Garden (THE FUCKING OLIVE GARDEN) as her restaurant of choice for her weekly meet ups with Este Haim in “No Body, No Crime.”

The really emotionally charged lines are the ones that hit the hardest, but there are also ones that are overall less self-aware, but aren’t as devastating; they are the ones throughout the album that are evocative, for one reason or another, and speak to Swift’s literate capabilities as a storyteller, like, “The holidays linger like bad perfume—you can run, but only so far,” she muses on “’Tis The Damn Season,” or one of the most gorgeous, picturesque opening lines that I have heard in a long time, from “Cowboy Like Me”—“And the tennis court was covered up with some tent-like thing.” It seems like a very plain observation, but in the world of the song, it literally sets the entire stage with a few, wildly descriptive words.

And where do you begin with the phrases that hit the hardest, or make you feel the most ‘seen’ and ‘attacked’; the lyrics where you see the most reflection of yourself in them?

You find yourself in the breathlessly, desperate bridge of “Tolerate It,” when Swift, exasperated, sings, “I’m begging for footnotes2 in the story of your life.” You find yourself in the description of your pain fitting in somebody else’s freezings hand. You find yourself as something delicate and shattered; as the person responsible for changing someone’s color from blue to grey.

You find yourself, unmoored, unable to recall what you were fighting for, catching your breath, staring out of an open window, catching your death.


Musically, Evermore is more ambitious of an undertaking than its ‘sister’ record, but this might be an unfair comparison. At the time of its release, Folklore was a complete surprise and was incredibly ambitious, but through the process of writing additional songs with Swift, Aaron Dessner has shown tremendous growth and confidence in his ability to arrange a thought provoking ‘pop’ song in a short amount of time. 

Responsible for co-writing and producing almost the entire album with Swift, he is able to find the right balance between his indie rock pedigree, his dynamic, complex “modern classical” compositions, The National’s recent embracement of glitchy electronics and sonic experimentation, and Swift’s history with ‘pop’ music. It seems, at first, like it’s a difficult, if not impossible balance to attain, but Dessner manages—and he does so with seeming ease. It is obvious in the months following the release of Folklore that the dynamic between he and Swift, and their comfort with one another, has grown, and it shapes the assured, thoughtful heart and sound of the record.  


Look at any of the Genius annotation about the lyrics to Evermore, or really, any of Swift’s songs, and you’ll see that her fans will regularly point out when specific words or themes, or familiar phrases, are used and repeated throughout her body of work. Even between Folklore and Evermore, there are songs that have a commonality to them.

In my review of Folklore, I refer to it as a ‘song cycle,’ simply because of how it was created, and how pieces of it are connected. I hesitate to refer to Evermore in that way, but there are central ideas that run throughout the album—most noticeably a lot of self-reflection, and the idea of ‘forgiveness’—the desire to forgive someone, the want to be forgiven, and just how difficult or impossible it might seem to offer that, or receive it.

You hear it first on the album in “Champagne Problems,” when, as Swift is detailing the eventual demise of the relationship depicted, she says, “You’ll find the real thing instead—she’ll patch up the tapestries I shed.” And it is most apparent in both “Happiness,” and, fitting, “Closure.” In the former, the idea of forgiveness and acceptance both play a huge role in the overall conceit of the song—there is the idea of the ‘new me,’ Swift talks about, both the self that will come out of the experience of the break up, as well as the truth that her former partner is going to, eventually, meet someone new. “All you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness,” she sings near the end of the song. “You haven’t me the new met yet—and I think she’ll give you that.”

“Closure,” though, shifts and Swift dissects just how difficult it can be to forgive, and doing so through her classic pop lens—“I know that it’s over/I don’t need your closure,” she sings in the refrain. “I know I’m just a wrinkle in your new life,” she adds in the bridge. “Staying friends would iron it out so nice.”

The idea of ‘forgiveness’ is just a theme though, and what lingers long after Evermore has finished is the opportunities for self-reflection Swift provides throughout. Whether you see any part of yourself in her lyrics here or not—not even feeling ‘seen’ or ‘attacked,’ but just any part of yourself, however large or small, there’s a feeling in the moment you catch that reflection. And that’s the kind of feeling that doesn’t just cease when the album concludes. 


Folklore and Evermore are both excellent enough albums that the quality of the songwriting should eclipse, or outlive, the mythology behind how and why they were made; but, the process of writing and recording not one but two albums during a pandemic is still destined to be a part of the narrative, at least for now.

Swift, as a songwriter and collaborator, continues to take risks, and the state of the world gave her the freedom to explore other facets of her songwriting that she otherwise probably would never have had the opportunity to do so. Evermore is clearly a strong and enormous enough statement to stand on its own, but it will, also at least for now, live partially in the shadow of and comparison to its ‘sister album.’

A beautiful, devastating testimony, Evermore does a difficult thing and Swift and her collaborators pull it off with ease; it’s an album that doesn’t make demands of you, but it also implores you to listen closely and reflect. It does all of this while still being an incredibly well produced, accessible pop record. Not everyone could strike this dichotomy, let alone twice in one year. Even in its most pensive moments, like “Tolerate It”—the song is written in such a way that, even with how melancholic it is lyrically, it is still ‘catchy’ enough to be stuck in your head. 

Swift, or at least the version of herself that she’s written into the titular track, finds a small piece of hope in the end, when she says that she feels like her pain “wouldn’t be for evermore.” I don’t want to say that this is where the reflections of myself that I saw in this record cease, but this is a kind of optimism that I do not know. But Swift, like she has provided herself in “Evermore,” has provided us, too, with a sliver of hope and that our—you, me, whoever—paint won’t be for evermore. 

1- So, like, I understand that there are times when I am guilty of ‘reviewing the review’ in my writing and I express my disappointment in how an album or an artist has been assessed by ‘music journalists,’ or ‘real music writers,’ or whatever. With that being said, this is an aside: I don’t know why I still read Stereogum. I think it’s because they occasionally cover things other sites do not, so I frequent it for news, but also for stories or information about artists I might not hear about elsewhere. However, the writing on Stereogum is bad. Tom Breihan writes the site’s weekly hip hop column, and even though this happened nearly two years ago, I will never forgive him for his piece on the Billy Woods album Hiding Places. The entire piece was constructed around something Breihan misunderstood (within the first track), and built his flimsy conceit around that. Even after both Woods himself (and I) pointed out the error on social media (and others in the Stereogum comment section) Breihan opted not to walk it back, or make an edit, which not only does it reflect on sloppy listening and poor critical thinking, but a lack of ‘integrity.’ But what do I know? I’m not a real music writer. 

2- Because I am guilty of using too many footnotes in my writing, I found this line to personally very funny. 

Evermore is out now digitally and on CD via Republic; the vinyl pressing already appears to be sold out but will be available in 2021.