Early on December 10, 2020, Taylor Swift announced the release of her ninth studio album to be titled evermore. This was not even five months after her Grammy nominated album folklore was released, shocking fans. She said that she and her team (Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, and Justin Vernon) were unable to discontinue their exploration of the “folklorian woods” and decided to keep creating what she calls folklore’s “sister album,” implying that the songs are primarily rooted in fiction and follow similar themes. evermore includes features from HAIM as well as from The National. The day after she announced evermore, the album dropped on December 11, two days before Swift’s 31st birthday.
The album has one single track: “willow”. On the date of the album’s release, a music video was released to the album opener. The song is ethereal and romantic to perfectly set off the theme of the album.
The album’s 15 tracks cover a variety of emotional stories reminiscent of folklore. Whereas folklore featured a trilogy of songs telling the fable of a high school love triangle, evermore tells stories of broken marriages and of more mature relationships. “no body, no crime” featuring the HAIM sisters tells the tale of a girl whose friend goes missing at the hands of her adulterous husband, only for the narrator to kill the husband. “ivy” describes a tortured narrator in love with someone other than their spouse. Finding love after the end of a seven year long relationship is displayed in “happiness.” “champagne problems” details a couple out to dinner. One is preparing to end the relationship while the other is planning to propose.
Swift has a tradition of putting her most poignant works as the fifth track on each of her albums. evermore’s track 5 is a personal favorite. A persistent narrator works to please their merciless lover in “tolerate it”. Some theorize this song was meant to describe Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales until Diana’s death. According to this theory Diana is begging for Charles’s affection only to be met with indifference and ambivalence. This theory has been thrust into popularity following the release of season four of The Crown which features their relationship.
“dorothea” probably is the song with the most fan speculation. Some say the track is about Swift’s long-time best friend Selena Gomez. The more popular opinion is that the song reveals the name of Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik’s September-born child. The couple still has yet to reveal the name of their daughter. This theory stems from the folklore song “betty” where many fans believe that Swift revealed the name of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’s third daughter, Inez.
Some of the tracks take a more personal route. “marjorie” is dedicated to her late grandmother who was an opera singer. Her voice is snuck into the backing vocals of the song. Swift’s relationship with long time boyfriend Joe Alwyn is suspected to be the theme of “long story short,” detailing her fall from the spotlight and eventually finding love.
While the meaning of the title track “evermore” featuring Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) is unclear, my personal belief is that it is an ode to 2020. Swift describes a depressive period of pain against the backdrop of “the violence of the dog days.” 2020 was a violent, painful year of isolation and fear. Many are struggling as a result of the pandemic and economic downfall. Swift writes that she felt as though her pain would be evermore until she found light. Each of us has had to search for spots of light to survive and to remind ourselves, as the narrator realizes at the end of the song, that “this pain wouldn’t be for evermore”.
Many are considering evermore to be Taylor Swift’s most sophisticated, mature work. It is introspective and exhibits the complexity of human emotion. She definitely delved deeper into “the folkarian woods” and created an album overflowing with passion, etherality, and grief. Simply put, it is a musical and lyrical masterpiece.