Taylor Swift's Folklore: What You Need To Know
After seeing her planned Lover Fest tour postponed from its planned April 2020 start date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor Swift would surely have been forgiven for taking a break from her usually hectic schedule. But no. Finding herself with time on her hands, she decided not to waste it and has been quietly working away over the last few months on a new album.
Surprise-released onto streaming platforms last week without warning, the album was due to arrive in physical format this Friday but, in a second pleasant surprise for fans, her team were so 'swift' (ahem) to get the album into stores that they decided to release it a day early.
So, with her surprise new album Folklore freshly on the shelves in our stores, here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
The new album has been entirely written and recorded while in isolation during the pandemic and, as such, is a much more mellow affair than her any of her recent output. Left to her own devices, she set about creating what she describes as "a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness", writing lyrics largely in the third person with a focus on storytelling and on themes of "heartbreak and retrospection".
Swift first premiered a new song 'Cardigan' on July 23rd and surprised fans by releasing the album on streaming services last week, immediately entering the record books with biggest opening day by a female artist on Spotify.
Who's producing it?
The production on the new album is a three-way split between Taylor herself, Bleachers mainman Jack Antonoff and The National's Aaron Dessner.
Any special guests?
Just the one, with Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) popping up on the album's third track 'exile'.
What does it sound like?
As you might expect given the circumstances surrounding its creation, this isn't the big, shiny pop album you might expect from Taylor Swift. Instead, the singer has utilised the limited options available to her to create a stripped-back soundscape consisting mainly of just voice, piano and/or acoustic guitars, but the result is something much more intimate than the type of slick pop she has become known for.
The Justin Vernon is a particular highlight on an album that has variously been described as 'indie-folk', 'electro-folk' and 'chamber pop', but there are plenty more gems on offer here including the already-released 'cardigan' and the powerfully understated piano-led balladry of 'the 1'.
Does it deliver?
There's a school of thought which suggests that placing limitations on oneself can be a good thing creatively, especially in a world where technology offers practically unlimited number of options very easily. Sometimes those limitations are a choice, sometimes the product of circumstance, but they often force an artist into producing good results and that certainly seems to be the case here.
You could argue that Taylor Swift could do no wrong in the eyes of her fans at this point, but Folklore offers them a side to her music that they perhaps wouldn't have gotten to enjoy were it not for the strange circumstances of its creation. There are precious few silver linings on offer with world events right now, but for dedicated Swifties the new album will certainly be one of them.