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2020’s Incandescent Glow

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

Let’s be real. Whether you’re a fan or not, Taylor Swift has made major contributions to making the year 2020 brighter. Ironically, she was able to do so by releasing some of her saddest albums. Her most recent one being “evermore”.

Like its predecessor “folklore”, Swift’s 9th studio album tells many different stories more compelling than the ones you’re assigned to read for your English class. WELL, maybe not (Great Gatsby says “hello”) but it depends on you I guess. In general, the album showcases many engaging tales that may or may not capture your interest if you’re into creative storytelling.

Personally, evermore is one of my favorite albums of hers. I literally don’t skip any song on this record. Why? Well, let’s dive deeper into the storylines it presents by going through each track. I’ll be including my favorite lyrics from each song because why not? You’re now basically going to read my reasons for loving this album so much and why you should too, so have fun.

track 1: willow

The lead single of folklore, “cardigan”, was definitely a different approach sonically to what fans are used to. With the opening and lead single of evermore, the song “willow” is able to appeal to those who like Swift’s former sound. It’s able to be more upbeat while maintaining the indie folk vibe. I also think it’s lyrically reminiscent of songs from her last pop album, “Lover” as it’s a track that talks about wanting to be with someone.

This is nothing new in a Taylor Swift song, but this track also provides examples of figures of speech such as similes and metaphors that I randomly appreciate in lyrics like, “I'm like the water when your ship rolled in that night”, “Every bait and switch was a work of art”, and even my personal favorite lyric of the song, “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind.”

track 2: champagne problems

You can say that this one immediately became a fan-favorite, some even declaring it better than Swift’s iconic track “All Too Well” from her fourth studio album, “RED”. For years, All Too Well was and still is relatively known to be her “best song” in all of her discography for so many of her fans. To think that a lot of people are moving on from that and crowning champagne problems as the superior track is beyond me.

The song narrates a story of a failed proposal in the perspective of the woman who rejected her supposed-to-be fiancé. It’s a tragic tale that talks about how this woman is known for being somewhat mentally ill, and people take it against her and use it as a reason to why she rejected the man who proposed to her. Despite the gossip surrounding her, she still wishes the man happiness to find someone who won’t hurt him the way she did.

track 3: gold rush

A “gold rush” is defined as “the headlong pursuit of sudden wealth in a new or lucrative field” according to Merriam-Webster. Simply put, it is basically an event wherein new gold and other materials are found somewhere and because of this, every miner rushes in to become rich. A good example would be the California Gold Rush which you can search up for more details.

Taylor Swift uses this scenario except instead of gold, everyone is “rushing” for a person, meaning everybody wants this one person. The narrator of the song describes how charming this person is with lyrics like, “Gleaming, twinkling, eyes like sinking, ships on waters, so inviting.” However, the narrator also directly states that she does not like a gold rush. This relates to why despite how “amazing” this person seems to be, she says, “I almost jump in.” Key word being “almost”.

This song is an absolute BOP, and it’s not surprising when it’s produced by Jack Antonoff. To keep it simple, he produced a lot of Taylor’s catchy songs such as “Out of the Woods”, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”, “Cruel Summer”, and a lot more.

track 4: tis the d*mn season

Just like folklore, evermore showcases different stories within the songs and these songs can sometimes interconnect. A good example would be the connection between tis the d*mn season and dorothea. These two songs tell the story of a girl named, well, Dorothea. In track four, it talks about her feelings once she has come back to her hometown. I’d give more context but we’re saving that for dorothea.

With a catchy chorus and an excellent bridge, this one is a personal favorite of mine. It reveals that Dorothea still has feelings for whoever the song is for, however; she won’t stay for long unless he asks her to stay. After all, she only plans to remain in their hometown for the weekend. Even though it hurts, she’s still going to leave eventually.

track 5: tolerate it

During quarantine, we all did anything we could to entertain ourselves and not get bored. For Taylor, she definitely watched tons of movies and read many different books. The literature she explored inspired a lot of the lyrics found in both folklore and evermore. For example, the whole premise of tolerate it is based on the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

The song is sung in the perspective of a woman who puts in all this effort in a relationship just for her love to be tolerated. “She’s doing all these things and she’s trying so hard and she’s trying to impress him, and he’s just tolerating her the whole time,” Taylor said as she explained how she identified with the character of Rebecca because at one point in her life, she was also in that situation in a way.

What’s genius about this song is how the narrator has all these overwhelming thoughts and emotions going through her head, and although she does consider doing something about the painful situation during the bridge, in the end, she does nothing. The song starts and ends with the lyrics, “I sit and watch you”, which sounds creepy without the context but it goes to show that the narrator continues to stay trapped in that relationship because she’s waiting for something to change.

track 6: no body, no crime

Taylor Swift is well-known for changing her image again and again. After all, she started out as a young country artist who then moved on to pop and now she’s venturing into alternative music. However, with folklore and evermore, she stated that, “I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning.” You can certainly hear her old sound in songs like cowboy like me and this one, no body no crime.

I crown this song the most intriguing one on the album. It tells the story of a murder mystery. Well, it’s not much of a mystery because we all know who did it, we just can’t prove it.

It’s such a fun song that tells the story of how Este was killed by her husband after she confronted him about cheating on her. The narrator, Este’s friend, takes revenge by killing him and blaming it on the woman he was cheating with in the first place. Sounds dark, but trust me, it’s a fun track.

track 7: happiness

This song was actually recorded a week before evermore was released. It’s a slow but rather touching song sung in the perspective of a person who is exiting a life-altering relationship and is now trying to process what’s going to happen next.

The narrator is quite mature as she acknowledges the fact that she has also contributed to why their relationship has to end, and there’s no point in antagonizing anyone. The main message of the song is found in the chorus, “There'll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you. Both of these things can be true, there is happiness.”

track 8: dorothea

Despite the fact that the song is titled after the name of the main character in tis the d*mn season, it is actually sung from the perspective of Dorothea’s love interest. The song actually reveals the context of the track just mentioned.

The narrator reveals that he still loves Dorothea as he reminisces on their memories when they were younger. He also brings to light the reason why she left their hometown in the first place—to pursue an acting career. This is implied by the lyrics, “A tiny screen's the only place I see you now” and “You're a queen, selling dreams, selling makeup and magazines.”

Dorothea’s love interest is more or less proud of her as he praises her throughout the entire song. Although he does wish they were together, he says, “I got nothing but well wishes for ya.” This makes you go back to the lyrics in tis the d*mn season, where Dorothea says that she won’t make him wait if he doesn’t ask her to stay.

It makes you think about how Dorothea’s love interest highly believes that she is in a good place now and that there’s no point if he interferes with that. Meanwhile, Dorothea herself is actually in a state of vulnerability. She’s struggling, and it’s evident in the lyrics of tis the d*mn season, especially the one that says, “So I'll go back to L.A. And the so-called friends, who'll write books about me, if I ever make it. And wonder about the only soul who can tell which smiles I'm fakin'. And the heart I know I'm breakin' is my own.”

track 9: coney island

“I was trying to reflect on the Coney Island visual of a place where thrills were once sought. In a place where once it was all electricity and magic. And now the lights are out and you’re looking at it thinking, what did I do?” Taylor explained as she talked about the concept of the track during her Apple Music interview.

The song tells another tragic tale about a love burned out. There used to be a spark and reason for the two people the song talks about to be together but as time passed, they just grew distant. Eventually, whatever kept them going ran out. What’s interesting about the lyrics is how a lot of them reference Swift’s former songs on her past albums.

This duet is possibly connected to the song tolerate it. With lyrics like, “Sorry for not making you my centerfold”, it’s possible that it is a song sung from the perspective of the man who was simply tolerating the narrator in tolerate it. Taylor did make a comparison between the two songs during an interview when she revealed that she wanted coney island to touch on a male’s perspective of regret. It’s most likely that after a build-up of only being tolerated, the woman couldn’t take it anymore and decided to leave the relationship.

track 10: ivy

On folklore, there’s a song called “invisible strings”, and it is a really wholesome song about being connected to your soulmate through an invisible string. The song ivy sonically reminds me of that song. Instead of a wholesome romance though, the song tells the story of how a woman is falling deeper and deeper in love with this man—but the problem is she already has a husband.

The woman is more or less indulging in the “thrill” of infidelity despite acknowledging the fear of getting caught. She excuses her actions by saying she can’t help herself when it’s her secret lover’s fault for “putting roots in her dreamland”. The irony here is the fact that ivy originally means faithfulness because Ancient Greeks would give an ivy wreath to newlyweds.

In a way, you can make a connection between this song and no body no crime but that would make the storyline a lot messier. You can also connect it with the tolerate it and coney island storyline. It’s possible that the narrator in tolerate it met someone who actually appreciated her while she was still suffering in her relationship with her husband. You can honestly interpret it however you like.

track 11: cowboy like me

A song that has Taylor’s familiar country sound while at the same time being completely new, cowboy like me tells the story of how two con artists meet and unexpectedly fall in love while they were trying to cheat rich folks into falling into their trap. Although it has such an interesting and fun concept, it’s definitely an underrated track that needs more love and appreciation for its storytelling.

track 12: long story short

Long story short, this song is a good time. With a fun beat that reminds me of the folklore track, “the last great american dynasty”, it narrates a simple and concise version of what happened to Swift and how she felt during her 2016 drama.

To those who don’t know anything about it, Taylor was “cancelled” in 2016 because she was accused of victimizing herself and being a liar. It then became relatively popular to hate on her because of this. It doesn’t really sound special and it sounds like something that can happen to any celebrity, but it took a major toll on her mental health especially since it was such a big fall after experiencing the massive success of her hit album 1989.

The song explains all this in a poetic manner in less than 4 minutes and how despite all the chaos, she was able to find someone to help her through it.

track 13: marjorie

I’d say this song is the most touching one on the record as it is dedicated to Swift’s grandmother, Marjorie Finlay. With lyrics like, “If I didn't know better I'd think you were still around, “You're alive, you're alive in my head”, and so much more, it could get anyone emotional to some extent whether or not you relate to it.

Fun fact! The song features Marjorie’s vocals in the background because records of her singing were found by Taylor’s mother, so they decided to add it in the track.

track 14: closure

To simply put it, the song is about a relationship that ended on bad terms. The track is sung in the perspective of the one who got hurt, and essentially she’s bitter about it and doesn’t want to be bothered by the one who hurt her.

I’m not exactly sure if it connects to any other song, but it might as well be the end of the tolerate it and coney island storyline. The narrators of both songs ended their relationship, and as talked about in coney island, the man still longs for forgiveness because he didn’t make the woman in tolerate it his centerfold. He tries to reconnect with her but she doesn’t think he’s genuine. After all, after everything he put her through, she doesn’t want his closure.

track 15: evermore

The album closes with the beautiful ballad, “evermore”, a track about finding hope despite being stuck in the darkness for so long. Parts of the song are also inspired by Swift’s 2016 experience like in long story short, but in this song, it gives more insight to the kind of negative emotions she was feeling at the time.

At one point, the piano in the background unexpectedly speeds up, in a way representing that moment where you have that sudden epiphany that things are going to be okay. Then, the bridge starts, and honestly it is so SATISFYING. The way the two voices go back and forth (as this is a song that features the band Bon Iver) is just BEAUTIFUL and is honestly way better than the song they collaborated in folklore called “exile”.

so what now?

Overall, “evermore” is one of Taylor Swift’s best albums by far that tells intriguing stories in an innovative way that would definitely not leave you crestfallen. Although it’s not like she hasn’t been able to tell stories beautifully before, this record just goes to show how much she has grown in the last decade not only as a songwriter but also as a person. I can honestly say that every song is a work of art.

One of the best things about it and its sister album “folklore” is the fact that it paves the way for what her future music may be like. Instead of writing about her own life like she has always done, she will most likely continue writing about fictional characters and stories that come up in her mind. Listening to the different tales she has written in these two albums makes me hyped for more to come, especially when it’s so fun to analyze and interpret the lyrics.

After reading all this, I recommend actually listening to these songs and appreciating the amount of thought put into them. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in the world of this record because I’m sure you won’t regret it.

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