evermore: A Track By Track Review

evermore%3A+A+Track+By+Track+Review

Wendy Zhu

Taylor Swift has done it again, folks. If folklore came as a surprise, then evermore came as the shock of the century. In just 15 months, Swift has delivered three full studio albums: Lover, folklore and now evermore, folklore’s sister album. It’s a little rougher around the edges, a little darker, a little more nuanced and emotionally complex. At first, this album felt a little harder to follow than folklore and took me a few more listens to really love, but the dust has finally settled over the past two weeks. A couple months ago, I crowned folklore as Swift’s magnum opus, but after listening to evermore, I’m not quite so sure anymore. The one thing I am sure of, however, is that Swift has solidified herself as one of this generation’s strongest songwriters. If there was any doubt of her artistry after folklore, there’s not a shred of doubt left. Here’s a track-by-track breakdown of Taylor Swift’s latest album.  

Album Highlights:

  • champagne problems
  • gold rush
  • no body, no crime
  • long story short
  • Marjorie

1. willow

Favorite lyric: But I come back stronger than a ‘90s trend

“willow” is both the opening track and lead single of evermore. It feels very lively and full of movement, and I love her breathy vocals in the chorus. I can see why Swift chose this to be the lead single—it’s sweet but not saccharine, and it feels radio-friendly enough to be well-liked by the general public. The instrumental also reminds me of “invisible string,” an equally wholesome track from folklore

2. champagne problems

Favorite lyric: Your Midas touch on the Chevy door/November flush and your flannel cure

This is hands down my favorite track from evermore. It’s like a sadder, more melancholy version of “New Year’s Day” from Swift’s reputation and details a failed marriage proposal. I love the buildup to the bridge (can we talk about those harmonies?) and the final chorus, which is a modified version of the first chorus that allows the story to come full circle. No, I cannot personally relate to this song, but it still makes me emotional. I think Swift has a remarkable way of making me nostalgic for memories I’ve never experienced and lives I’ve never lived, and this song is a prime example of her top tier storytelling abilities.

3. gold rush

Favorite lyric: And the coastal town we wandered ‘round had nеver seen a love as pure as it/And thеn it fades into the gray of my day-old tea

Listening to “gold rush” feels, quite literally, like a gold rush. The production on this song is beautiful and sounds like pure magic—particularly in the intro and outro. I also love the contrasting imagery as Swift compares the rush of falling in love to the mundane nature of daily life: there’s the glistening gold of the person you daydream about…and then there’s the dull gray of reality. This song sounds nothing like anything Swift has ever done before, and it’s easily one of my favorites from the album.

4. ‘tis the damn season

Favorite lyric: And wonder about the only soul/Who can tell which smiles I’m faking/And the heart I know I’m breaking is my own

According to Swift, there are two songs on the album that are two sides of the same coin, telling the same story but from different perspectives. Based on the lyrics, I’m assuming “‘tis the damn season” and “dorothea” make up this pair of songs, and “‘tis the damn season” is from Dorothea’s point of view as she returns home for the holidays and rekindles her connection with an old flame. Before hearing this song, I thought it would be festive and jolly after seeing the name, but I think it’s safe to say that my predictions were very far off. 

5. tolerate it

Favorite lyric: I made you my temple, my mural, my sky/Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life

Out of all of Swift’s “Track Fives,” this is undoubtedly one of the most gut wrenching (for those who don’t know, it’s a running joke that the fifth track on a Taylor Swift album is always one of the saddest on the album). The opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference, and Swift knows it. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of pouring your blood, sweat and tears into something or someone and receiving nothing but mere toleration in return, and her vocal delivery does a great job of capturing this pain. This song also reminds me of a quote from Swift’s documentary Miss Americana: “When people fall out of love with you, there’s nothing you can do to make them change their mind. They just don’t love you anymore.” Pretty heartbreaking if I do say so myself.

6. no body, no crime (feat. HAIM)

Favorite lyric: Good thing my daddy made me get a boating license when I was fifteen/And I’ve cleaned enough houses/To know how to cover up a scene

Swift has mastered the art of “Show, don’t tell.” In just three-and-a-half minutes, she spins the tale of a cheating husband, murder and revenge. Sonically, “no body, no crime” is a hybrid of Swift’s “Should’ve Said No” and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” and like she does in “betty” from folklore, Swift returns to her country roots. In the song, the protagonist is friends with Este, who is named after Este Haim, one of Swift’s friends in real life. Este’s husband kills his wife to be with his mistress, but in a sudden twist, Este’s friend avenges Este and kills the husband. However, not once does Swift explicitly sing about who killed who, nor does she explicitly sing about killing at all for that matter. Instead, she allows the listener to piece together the story. If there’s one song on this album that deserves a music video, it’s this one.

7. happiness

Favorite lyric: When did all our lessons start to look like weapons pointed at my deepest hurt?

“happiness” is a very misleading title because this song is far from happy, but at the same time, it’s not just about pure heartbreak. Although I would classify “happiness” as a sad song, I love that it focuses more on self-growth and the future instead of just reminiscing on the past. It’s very bittersweet, and while there’s a lot of self-reflection about a failed relationship, there’s a glint of optimism as Swift sings, “there’ll be happiness after you.” It’s like the Dr. Suess quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” There are also a couple references to The Great Gatsby sprinkled in this song, with lyrics about a green light and a beautiful fool. 

8. dorothea

Favorite lyric: The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo

This song makes me feel like I’m standing in the middle of a field of flowers with the sun shining over me. It’s a big, breezy, easygoing track that complements the sound of “‘tis the damn season” well—if “‘tis the damn season” represents the wintertime, this track represents the summertime. Presumably, this track is from the perspective of Dorothea’s former lover from her hometown, and it’s dripping with nostalgia as the narrator sings about past adventures with Dorothea. It’s very carefree and one of the few happier songs on the album.

9. coney island (feat. The National)

Favorite lyric: ‘Cause we were like the mall before the internet/It was the one place to be/The mischief, the gift-wrapped suburban dreams

As of now, this is probably my least favorite track on the album, and I don’t have much to say about it besides the fact that the melody is a little forgettable. However, I do like the Americana imagery in the song, and I think Swift sounds nice with Matt Berninger, frontman of The National. “coney island” is also interesting in that it appears to reference some of Swift’s past relationships, with lyrical parallels to some of her songs like “Dear John” and “The Moment I Knew.”

10. ivy

Favorite lyric: My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand

If the cottagecore aesthetic were a song, this would be it. This song screams “let’s run away to the forest and live like woodland fairies together,” except there’s one problem: the narrator of the song is already married. Whoops. Like “illicit affairs,” the 10th track on folklore, “ivy” tells a tale of infidelity, but it does so in a much softer way. It uses metaphors of springtime and a thawing winter to represent the blossoming of a new—albeit forbidden—relationship. In the song,  this forbidden love creeps slowly and quietly, going unnoticed until it’s far too late to be removed—just like ivy. This is a very pretty song, and it’s one of my favorites from the album.

11. cowboy like me

Favorite lyric: Now you hang from my lips/Like the Gardens of Babylon

Since the album’s release, this song has grown on me the most. It didn’t stand out much to me at first, but I’ve learned to love this slow-pulsing track that’s about two gold diggers falling in love (how romantic!). “cowboy like me” reminds me of worn leather and expensive whiskey, and it’s one of Swift’s most mature-sounding songs. Though it hasn’t been long since Swift released evermore, I can already tell that this track is criminally underrated.

12. long story short

Favorite lyric: Your nemeses/Will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing

This is one of the catchiest songs on the album and has the strongest melody. It’s also a more autobiographical track, as many others are based on fictional stories that aren’t necessarily connected to Swift’s life. I think this track would have fit in well on 1989, and it’s like the spunky younger sister of “Call It What You Want” from reputation. While it’s sad to hear Swift sing about the unfortunate events in her past, the best part of the song is hearing her change the chorus from “long story short, it was a bad time” to “long story short, I survived.” I would also say those lyrics are very accurate in describing 2020 in a nutshell.

13. marjorie

Favorite lyric: Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt/‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me

“marjorie” is a poignant, heartfelt tribute to Marjorie Finlay, Swift’s late maternal grandmother who was also an opera singer. The song offers some solid life advice: “Never be so kind you forget to be clever/Never be so clever you forget to be kind.” It’s also incredibly well-produced, and the use of Finlay’s vocals is the perfect touch—when Swift sings “I’d think you were singing to me now,” listeners can actually hear Finlay singing in the background. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album, and it’ll resonate with anyone who has ever dealt with the loss of a loved one.

14. closure

Favorite lyric: I’m fine with my spite/And my tears, and my beers and my candles

If I were to use one word to describe this song, it would be…interesting. If I’m being honest, I was a little confused about the noises in the intro the first time I listened to “closure,” and I thought there was something wrong with my headphones. The production is very experimental and sounds almost chaotic. The transition from “marjorie” to this track felt somewhat jarring, and the odd time signature initially threw me off a bit. However, I think the production fits the emotion of the song well. Getting closure is always nice, but like Swift says in the song, it might not always be necessary—depending on the situation, it could bring mixed feelings and simply rub salt in the wound. I’ll admit that this song isn’t my favorite, but I think it does a good job of portraying that suffocating feeling of unwanted closure. 

15. evermore (feat. Bon Iver)

Favorite lyric: I had a feeling so peculiar/This pain wouldn’t be for/Evermore

Before the album came out, I was especially excited to hear this song because it’s the title track, but I think it falls short of “exile,” Swift’s first collaboration with Bon Iver from folklore. “evermore” feels a little brighter than “exile” thanks to Justin Vernon’s falsetto and the more upbeat bridge, but it also feels a little more watered down and not as emotionally intense. However, it’s a pensive song regardless and serves as a good reminder that even when it seems like pain will last forever, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel. After a very tumultuous year, I think we can all find some solace in this track, and I like how this ends the album on a hopeful note.

16. right where you left me (bonus track)

Favorite lyric: Did you ever hear about the girl who got frozen?/Time went on for everybody else/She won’t know it, she’s still twenty-three inside her fantasy

This song is heavily reminiscent of Swift’s early work and sounds like it could have been on Speak Now or Red, with heavy country-acoustic influences. In the song, a girl experiences heartbreak at the hands of a partner who leaves for someone else, but she simply can’t move on, even when everyone else around her has. It’s a well-written song, but I can see why Swift made it a bonus track instead of including it on the actual album. To me, it doesn’t stand out as much as the standard tracks do, especially in terms of production.

17. it’s time to go (bonus track)

Favorite lyric: That old familiar body ache/The snaps from the same little breaks in my soul/I know when it’s time to go

The final track on the deluxe album, “it’s time to let go” is a stripped back, quieter song about finding strength in letting go. Based on the lyrics, I’m assuming the second verse details Swift’s battle with Scott Borchetta, her former record label executive, and the rights to own the masters of her first six albums. I think this song helps serve as a reminder that in life, people will come and go. People will naturally drift apart without hard feelings, but at the same time, there may be instances of betrayal or hurt—and that’s when it’s important to know when it’s time to go. Personally, I much prefer this bonus track over the other.

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