Alec Compton ’22
Arts & Culture Editor
Taylor Swift has had a very interesting character arc, outgrowing her acoustic sound to become a fully-fledged pop-superstar, only to return to an acoustic sound on her latest record, Folklore. The sudden tonal change from her bubblegum-pop record Lover may have come as a surprise for some, but recall that the title track from Lover was an acoustic ballad of sorts, and is one of the most successful songs from that record.
I predicted Taylor would begin to toy around with more acoustic sounds. What I could not foretell was just how complete and worthwhile of a sonic venture Folklore would turn out to be.
Folklore does not start on the strongest foot, however. The opener “the 1” is a bit of a slog and has some undesirable vocal lines and “Cardigan” is probably the worst song on the record with its clunky metaphor in which Taylor compares herself to a lover’s cardigan.
This is disappointing as she uses metaphors so much better on a later track, “Mirrorball.” Folklore then takes a turn in the right direction with the song “The Last Great American Dynasty”, a fun, groovy, storytelling track that sounds like something Lana Del Rey would create.
This is followed by a beautiful piano duet “Exile” with Bon Iver, a track from the perspectives of ex-lovers who have different interpretations on the end of their relationship. On this track, Bon Iver drops his usual autotune-drenched vocals in favour of a deep bass, which compliments Taylor’s higher vocals when they sing the outro together.
The tracks “Seven” and “August” are both stellar songs. After an interesting venture into the synth slow burner that is “Epiphany”, we get to my favorite song on the record, “Betty”. “Betty” is the second song about the love triangle previously discussed on “August”. “Betty” is sung from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy named James, a meditation on his cheating behaviour, and an apology to Betty, his girlfriend for whom the song is named. Instrumentally, the song is a simple campfire guitar song with Bob Dylan-esque harmonicas laced into the track. The final two songs on the record are stripped back slow songs that end Folklore off quite nicely and serve as good closers after the faster paced “Betty”.
I was skeptical going into this record, worried it would be a folk record only in name and quickly switch back to the dance pop Taylor is used to, but I was blown away with how cohesive, lush, and consistent the album is and thoroughly enjoyed it.