Taylor Swift has been full of surprises this year. After dropping the indie-folk experiment Folklore in July, she’s returned with an unexpected Christmas gift: its sister album Evermore.
The 15-track record features new contributions from pop-rock trio Haim, but also brings back Folklore collaborators Bon Iver, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, who’s now brought with him his band The National. Standouts include lead single “Willow,” which features Swift’s smooth vocals backed by largely acoustic-driven instrumentation. It’s followed by the piano ballad “Champagne Problems” that then gives way to thumping indie banger “Gold Rush.”
The old Taylor comes to the phone on unmistakeable folk-country tunes “No Body, No Crime” featuring HAIM as well as “Dorothea,” while more of the DNA of Folklore comes through on the wistful “Coney Island” featuring The National. The album ends with dramatic title track “Evermore,” featuring a heart-rending call-and-response between Swift’s dusky drawl and Bon Iver’s soulful falsetto.
Announcing the album in a series of tweets, Swift explained the decision to release a sister album to Folklore: “To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in.”
To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 10, 2020
Proving good things come in twos, Swift released Evermore alongside a self-directed visual for lead single “Willow.” It picks up where her video for Folklore single “Cardigan” left off and depicts the singer pursuing an elusive lover through various fairytale settings.
The releases are a fitting end to an eventful year for Swift, who is in the process of re-recording her first six albums after her previous label, Big Machine Records, sold the rights to those master recordings to Scooter Braun in a multi-million dollar deal. A snippet of one such re-recording—an updated version of “Love Story”—recently appeared in an ad for Match.com. Prior to that, Swift returned to the Academy of Country Music Awards with a live rendition of Folklore cut “Betty,” and performed “Soon You’ll Get Better” during a COVID-19 benefit livestream.
Watch the video for “Willow” here:
And stream Evermore below: