Alexandra O’Neal, Correspondent
Less than a year after her record-breaking album Lover was released Taylor Swift dropped her eighth album on July 23. The unannounced album shocked fans around the world not only because of the contrast with her last album, but also because of the timing. Swift wrote and recorded the entire album right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, around the same time that her Lover Fest concerts were scheduled and canceled due to the virus.
Folklore has an entirely different mood than her previous album Lover, which had more of an emphasis on upbeat, rhythm-focused lyrics. Folklore has mellower melodies, less like the generally dance-worthy tracks on her last album and more like poetic storytelling. Folklore has major Sunday-afternoon-in-the-rain vibes.
Instead of focusing on the rhythm of the lyrics, I found myself swaying to the hushed melodies, which showcase Swifts’ incredible vocal range and style. The entire album has a subtle, contemplative mood, which is possibly due to the haunting lyrics and simplicity of the instruments. Most songs feature little more than piano, guitar, a drum track, and vocals.
However, there were moments that reminded me of the songwriting on Lover. For example, the chorus in “august” has lines rhythmically similar to several songs on her previous album. The first few lines of the chorus, “but I can see us lost in the memory / August slipped away into a moment in time,” musically echo the buoyant melodies of Lover.
I was surprised by the amount of fictionalized storytelling that Swift included in her lyrics. Less like the subtle commentary of her current situation in life, she wrote an impressive storyline throughout the album, filled with emotionally raw lyrics.
The album is also very lyrically connected, with several of the songs existing separately but also commenting on other songs. “Cardigan”, “August”, and “Betty” are different perspectives on the same love story, “The 1” and “Peace” are also connected, and “Invisible String” and “The Lakes” are as well.
All in all, the songs on Folklore are lyrically and musically cohesive. The songs on the album flow easily from track to track, which is likely due to the fast production of the album, which was written and recorded within a few months.
Hannah Baugher, a lifelong Taylor Swift fan, commented on the intentionality of song order on the album.
“The way that she wrote it was very intentional,” Hannah said, adding how disorienting it was listening to the album on shuffle. Although Lover was a great album with amazing songs, Folklore takes songwriting to another level. The songs are expertly ordered on the album, and written so that the music transitions logically from song to song, and the lyrics connect in several places. Folklore is a masterpiece in that respect, excelling in lyric storytelling, cohesive tracks and brilliantly honest lyrics.