Taylor Swift announced yesterday on Instagram that she’d be dropping folklore in all its 16 tracks of glory at midnight. This album was rumored to be a lot more raw and less planned out than anything she’s done before. Somehow though, for album number eight she’s made it work with perhaps her strongest and boldest collection of songs yet. Swifty even managed to crank out her video for “cardigan,” a lush, dreamy, and fantastical visual accompaniment that she wrote and directed herself while respecting social distancing measures. “The entire shoot was overseen by a medical inspector, everyone wore masks, stayed away from each other, and I even did my own hair, makeup, and styling,” she wrote on social media.
The fire of folklore is still fresh but here are six takeaways that we’re excited to share with you now. Feel free to follow along and pick out your own Taylorisms buried deep within the folklore of the always magnificent, larger than life pop star.
As soon as folklore dropped there was instant chatter online from her fans who were worried that her relationship with actor Joe Alwyn was over, as there are several references to a failed relationship on the album. However soon after the release, Swift put up a tweet clarifying that, “In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result.” She was also quick to acknowledge that she wanted to write from the perspective of different characters, capturing the vibe of stories that are “passed down and whispered around,” hence folklore.
On the song “mirrorball” she sings, “drunk as they watched my shattered edges glisten,” referring to herself as a broken disco ball at her lowest point romantically. We think this might be a reference to the shocked (albeit ridiculous) reaction from many of her fans when she brought up drinking alcohol for the first time on reputation. That album was an analysis of her “reputation” being at its lowest point following the Kim Kardashian snake accusation, regarding her tentative approval and subsequent condemnation of Kanye’s “I made that bitch famous” lyric on his track “Famous.”
Swift wrote and recorded this album in isolation but got to collaborate with some of her musical heroes; including Aaron Dessner of The National (who co-wrote or produced 11 of the 16 songs), Bon Iver and Jack Antonoff, who Swift says is, “basically musical family at this point.”
The album photos were shot by Beth Garrabrant, an Illinois-based photographer who is known for, among many other things, documenting her teenage years after the death of a friend in a 2019 photo art show called Tweenage Landscapes.
“The last great american dynasty” and “mad woman” later in the album continue themes that Swift started talking about with her last single, “The Man,” and in her Netflix documentary Miss Americana where she laments having to work twice as hard for recognition as a woman in music, stating that if she were a man her “power moves” and relationship choices would see her regarded as being a “baller,” not a “bitch.”
Swift seems to be numerically aligned on folklore, at least with her tracklist, as Track 1 is called “the 1”, Track 7 is called “seven” and 8 is named after the eighth month of the year, September. Just joking, it’s actually August.