I’m sorry, the old Tyler can’t come to the phone right now.
Oh! Because he’s been f*****g decapitated by yet another surprise album from our Lady and Savior, Taylor Swift.
Yes, I have finally emerged from my hiatus to report on Taylor Swift’s surprise album . . . again . . . . Here is my long-awaited, soon critically-acclaimed review of the second sister, evermore.
One track. That’s what it took for me to know Taylor was about to repeat her folklore success.
When comparing folklore and evermore‘s singles, it definitely feels like “cardigan” is to piano as “willow” is to guitar. Each song has mesmerizing instrumentation, and each transports me to a mystical woodland somewhere far away.
The plucky strings? The way she sings “fo-o-o-o-llow”? The mid-song “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind” bridge? Yeah, I love.
So, “willow” may be my favorite lead single from any Taylor Swift album, and the best track 1 I can think of (sorry “. . . Ready For It?”). It introduces a slightly more colorful sister album, and I live for it every single time!
“Wait for the signal, and I’ll meet you after dark.”
2. “champagne problems”
Right, so if you were starting evermore with the hope that it would make you sob, then you will not be disappointed.
“champagne problems” is probably the saddest Taylor Swift song I have ever heard. It also goes in the upper echelon of her best bridges, of which there are many.
What was brilliant about folklore continues here in evermore: Taylor is writing vivid tales about experiences she has never had. In “champagne problems,” the tale is a devastating one. I’ll let you experience it for yourself. Stream it now if you want to cry.
“Your Midas touch on the Chevy door. November flush and your flannel cure.”
3. “gold rush”
This was the first moment when I could make a significant distinction between the sisters folklore and evermore. Three tracks in, and evermore has a beat you could hypothetically throw it back to.
The song itself is maybe not the most impressive lyrically (another jealousy song that, whether anecdotal or invented, feels like perfect bait for the “She always writes about the same thing” crowd). But it’s a fun little tune that provides some variance to an era of soft instrumentation.
“Gleaming, twinkling, eyes like sinking ships on waters so inviting, I almost jump in.”
4. “’tis the damn season”
“’tis the damn season” is sort of Hallmark Christmas movie-esque, but the romance is temporary – just a holiday weekend long.
This one doesn’t quite rise to the level of my faves from the record, but it’s another example of Taylor’s imaginative writing. I don’t imagine Taylor has an old flame in Pennsylvania or Nashville she sees on the holidays, but that doesn’t stop this track from feeling genuine and emotional.
“I parked my car between the Methodist and the school that used to be ours. The holidays linger like bad perfume. You can run, but only so far.”
5. “tolerate it”
Any Swiftie will tell you about Taylor’s habit of reserving track 5 for her most vulnerable and emotional songs.
“tolerate it” certainly fits that bill. But do I love it? I’m sorry, but it’s not my favorite.
This song is in a very unusual 10/8 time structure, which means there are 5 beats for every 4 you would normally expect. And while I appreciate Aaron Dressner and Taylor experimenting with sound, it’s just difficult to get into.
That’s because virtually every song you have ever heard on American radio is in the 4/4 time structure. It’s what we’ve come to expect, so it’s quite jarring to add an extra beat every time your brain wants to move to the next measure.
However, I will say the concept of giving your all to someone who couldn’t care less is among Taylor’s most heartbreaking to date.
“I wait by the door like I’m just a kid. Use my best colors for your portrait. Lay the table with the fancy shit. And watch you tolerate it.”
6. “no body, no crime” (feat. HAIM)
Umm, yes, absolutely.
This is like “Before He Cheats” dialed up to eleven. For all the strife and heartbreak Taylor has ever written about, she has never ascended into blatantly describing murder . . . until now. And I love it!
The song is catchy, memorable, and (again) totally different from anything we heard on folklore. It’s pure country in terms of story structure and instrumentation – a unique color in the evermore crayon box the same way “betty” was for folklore.
“She thinks I did it but she just. Can’t. Prove it.”
Probably the most bittersweet song I have ever heard. Basically, “Breaking up was devastating, but we still have the positive memories we made together.”
As your local psychologist (B.A.), I would just like to say that this song is so mature. The world isn’t all heroes and villains. Sometimes your best friends hurt you, and sometimes your worst enemies help you accomplish your goals.
The sound of this track is like folklore meets Lover (the buzzing synth in the back of the track reminds me of “Afterglow”). And overall, it’s just a really solid song.
“Across our great divide there is a glorious sunrise dappled with the flickers of light from the dress I wore at midnight. Leave it all behind, and there is happiness.”
(Please know how difficult it was to choose just one featured lyric for this song.)
I mean this in the nicest way: I keep forgetting this song exists.
But okay, let’s go through it. I’m listening now, and I guess I missed something kind of obvious: this song is from perspective of a star’s old friend. Perhaps this is a proxy for how she imagines her hometown friends think of her now? Yeah, that sounds right.
I hate to compare siblings, but again I have to point out how bright and colorful this song sounds compared to some of the stuff we got on folklore. Both albums are A+ to me, but songs like “dorothea” are where the contrast between them is most apparent.
“The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo.”
9. “coney island” (feat. The National)
Alright, here we go.
“coney island” is probably my favorite Taylor Swift collaboration. Like, ever.
There is plenty of fan speculation about what this song is really about. It’s easy to draw the connection to Jake Gyllenhall’s birthday cake (“Were you standing in the hallway with a big cake?”) or Harry Styles’s car accident (“And when I got into the accident, the sight that flashed before me was your face”).
So then, perhaps this one’s about reflecting on the end of all her past relationships?
Whatever it’s about, it’s gorgeous. The drum beat is unforgettable. Taylor’s voice works so well with Matt’s. I just love it.
“‘Cause we were like the mall before the Internet; It was the one place to be.”
I’m excited to write about this one, but first I should mention that evermore may be the most balanced album I’ve reviewed so far, in terms of track quality. In my opinion, the first half of each Taylor Swift album generally has better tracks than the second half. But with evermore, it’s about 50/50.
Okay anyway, “ivy” is flawless. Next.
. . .
Oh, you want more?
I recently told my bestie Swiftie that if someone claimed “ivy” was Taylor Swift’s best song ever, I wouldn’t argue with them. It’s ethereal, emotional, sonically vibrant and lyrically vivid.
I really don’t know what more you could want from a song, regardless of the artist.
“Oh, I can’t stop you putting roots in my dreamland. My house of stone, your ivy grows, and now I’m covered in you.”
11. “cowboy like me”
This one’s my dark horse. I liked it okay at first, but it’s taken a minute to grow on me.
Taylor using the word “cowboy” to describe solo-riding, independent people who give up their slick antics to love each other is genius. Why? Because it affords Taylor the opportunity to add country-style guitar and harmonica to lyrics that really aren’t all that country. It’s another example of experimentation in evermore that really pays off.
And using the phrase “I’m never gonna love again” as a positive? I just love the lyrical manipulation.
Also, this track has one of the best lyrics on the record, perhaps in her whole discography:
“And the skeletons in both our closets plotted hard to f*** this up.”
(Honorable mention: “Now you hang from my lips like the Gardens of Babylon.”)
12. “long story short”
The most upbeat song between both sister albums, I almost have no choice but to appreciate “long story short.”
It’s basically just a summary of everything that’s happened in Taylor’s life in the last 5 years, with few surprises for hardcore fans like myself.
But I still love it. You can dance to this song! Dance to it! Again, variance. We love to see it!
“Your nemeses will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing.”
Oh, my god. Oh my god? Did she really . . . ?
“marjorie” is f*****g incredible, in the way Taylor has a reputation for (not reputation). What I mean is that this one siphons directly from her own heart, as her best songs before the modern era always have.
Marjorie is Taylor’s late grandmother. The song pays tribute to her. “What died didn’t stay dead,” Taylor sings. “You’re alive in my head.” It’s a touching track, through and through.
But what sets this one over the edge for me?
Taylor uses samples from her dead grandmother’s old opera recordings as backing vocals in the song’s final chorus.
I got chills just typing that! It’s hauntingly beautiful. And I haven’t seen such a sonically creative choice from Taylor since she used her own heartbeat in “Wildest Dreams.”
What are we supposed to do – not scream?
“Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt, ’cause every scrap of you would be taken from me. Watched as you signed your name Marjorie.”
This is another one I tend to forget about.
Believe it or not, I really don’t have much to say about this Taylor Swift song.
The song experiments with frantic, percussive noises as its backdrop, but still manages to sound soft. I guess that’s something?
And fans have pointed out that the song sort of sounds like a big machine breaking. A Big Machine, if you will. Huh. Interesting.
“Yes, I got your letter. Yes, I’m doing better. It cut deep to know ya, right to the bone.”
15. “evermore” (feat. Bon Iver)
I hate to say it.
This Bon Iver collaboration isn’t nearly as good as “exile.” It’s impossible not to compare the two songs. I’m sorry.
And I want to love Justin Vernon’s falsetto runs, but . . . [finish the sentence].
The piano is pretty. It’s a fine song.
“And I was catching my breath. Barefoot in the wildest winter, catching my death.”
16. “right where you left me” (bonus track)
After my first listen, I was like “That’s pretty good.”
After my second listen, I was like “Wait, this is really good.”
Now, after numerous listens, I feel like I might be putting this pretty high on my ranking list.
A song about being stuck in a moment long ago is relatable and sad, but the vocals actually trigger my brain to release endorphins. I live for the guitar and banjo, which reminds me of Speak Now. I love how the verses lead into the choruses.
(The way “Right where you left me” before-and-afters into “You left me no choice but to stay here forever” deserves a mention, too.)
Basically, it’s a really, really good bonus track (something else Taylor has a
reputation reputation for).
“Help, I’m still at the restaurant. Still sitting in a corner I haunt, cross-legged in the dim light.”
17. “it’s time to go” (bonus track)
With a tough act to follow, “it’s time to go” doesn’t quite rise to the level of “right where you left me.”
It’s an advisory track about the scenarios you should be okay fleeing from. Not everything needs to be fought. Not everything needs to be forced. It’s a nice message.
But on an album with songs like “ivy,” “willow,” “marjorie,” and “coney island,” am I really going to be going to “it’s time to go” for my evermore fill? Meh. Probably not.
“He’s got my past frozen behind glass, but I’ve got me.”
evermore review and track ranking
Overall, evermore is easily one of Taylor’s best albums ever, which is a more and more impressive achievement as time goes on (and which she has accomplished twice within the last year).
It’s so hard to pick a favorite between folklore and evermore. folklore certainly has the novelty of being Taylor Swift’s first indie album, but I feel evermore used more crayons in the box with its songs. Each sister is incredible in her own way.
If I had to rank evermore‘s songs from best to worst, that list would probably look something like this:
- “coney island” (feat. The National)
- “right where you left me”
- “no body, no crime” (feat. HAIM)
- “cowboy like me”
- “’tis the damn season”
- “long story short”
- “champagne problems”
- “gold rush”
- “tolerate it”
- “it’s time to go”
- “evermore” (feat. Bon Iver)
<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Thanks for reading my review of Taylor Swift's second surprise album of 2020, <em>evermore</em>. Come back to the Tea Circle again soon! Xoxo, T.Thanks for reading my review of Taylor Swift’s second surprise album of 2020, evermore. Come back to the Tea Circle again soon! Xoxo, T.