Let's put Taylor Swift on repeat for evermore: a review
If 2016 was the year of Beyoncé, when her magnum opus, Lemonade, pushed itself to the forefront of the world's cultural conversation, 2018 into 2019 can be said to be Ariana Grande's. With the world still reeling from the horrors of the Manchester Arena attack, and with crises in her own personal life, including the death of Mac Miller and split from Pete Davidson, she released two albums in quick succession - Sweetener and thank u, next - that spoke perfectly to that specific moment. 2011, 2012, 2013 and the rest... we can probably give those to Adele, let's be honest.
But 2020, with its weird and not-so-wonderful adventures, has seen another artist blaze to the forefront of our collective imaginations. 2020 belongs to Taylor Swift.
Having released folklore earlier this summer - an album that marked a shift to an indie, more folky Taylor and which flowed beautifully from beginning to end with a sense nostalgia akin to a hug from an old friend - this week a new album, evermore, has been released. Described as a sister album to folklore, it moves with a similar ease and repose, becoming all-consuming, almost hypnotising, in its both its energy and poise.
Musically, it feels like this is where Taylor Swift should always have been. It marks a natural progression from her earlier albums: in some respects, harking back to the country Taylor of yesteryear, such as in no body, no crime, but all the while retaining that pop instinct that has served her so well. Even evermore has some electric hooks, from the opening track willow to long story short.
But, overall, as with folklore, it's the goddamn atmosphere of the thing that binds it all together. A mix of exquisite storytelling, truthful lyrics, simple building guitar, piano and drums, and a breathy falsetto that makes evermore sing just like its predecessor. It’s like you’re sat round a campfire and one of your friends picks up their guitar and starts singing, except instead of it being your mate Paul from school, it’s Taylor Swift and it’s just gorgeous.
I remember watching James Corden at the Brits in 2011, just before Adele gave us that performance of Someone Like You. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling when you're listening to a song written by someone you don’t know, who you’ve never met, that somehow manages to describe exactly how you felt at a particular moment in your life,” he said. I can’t help but feel Taylor has gone a step further, carrying us so perfectly in her storytelling, that we begin to imagine ourselves in situations we’ve never even been in.
But perhaps more to the point, evermore is an album of hope. At a time when everyone has had a year of (admittedly forced) self-reflection, Taylor Swift is the sound of 2020. Offering the antithesis to the effervescent escapism of Dua Lipa’s disco beats, in evermore we’re offered a different sort of escapism - one of simplicity, honesty and purity, that at one moment allows you to take a breath and self-reflect, but also, crucially, gives you the chance to pick yourself back up and power straight on.
And I was catching my breath
Floors of a cabin creaking under my step
And I couldn’t be sure
I had a feeling so peculiar
That this pain wouldn’t be for evermore
- George Prové