On December 11, 2020, Taylor Swift released her ninth studio album, evermore, less than five months after her eighth studio album, titled folklore. Lamar Life assistant editor Kathryn Stone and editor-in-chief Lauren Koong review evermore, the sister album to folklore, while further discussing how it relates to Swift’s history, including the rumors and feuds that surround her.
Track 1: willow
Kathryn: Though this track is not the best off the album to me, it’s spot as the opening track is fitting. The chorus is catchy and the lyrics are thought-provoking in a way that I’ve only seen Taylor master in recent years. The song itself seems to be about Taylor confessing that she would do anything for her man, though the relationship may prove to be a bit tumultuous. Like most of her songs, Taylor has filled “willow” with plenty of easter eggs and references to other songs or albums she has written.
Favorite Lyric: “As if you were a mythical thing/ like you were a trophy or a champion ring/ and there was one prize I’d cheat to win”
Lauren: “willow” is, personally, one of my favorite lead singles by Taylor Swift. While it isn’t my number favorite of this album, the lyrics and the musical accompaniment make this track incredibly unique, compared to other singles. The peaceful guitar in the background makes you feel like you are at a campfire, surrounded by your friends. I also loved the music video that she, the queen of Easter eggs, released to this song and how it connected to the cardigan music video.
Favorite lyric: “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind / but I come back stronger than a ‘90s trend
Rating: 10/10 (Full warning: I give a lot of songs in this album a 10/10; it’s just that good)
Track 2: champagne problems
Kathryn: This song is quite possibly one of the best songs I have ever heard. The lyrics are heart-wrenching and describe someone leaving the other person because of their problems or mental health and not being ready, while understanding how much they meant to each other and wanting the other to be able to move on . The imagery used in this song is phenomenal and every time I listen to it I feel like I have just experienced everything she sings about even though I have never once in my life come close to being in love with someone and having to leave them. I am only 17 and yet I feel like I am a 30 year old woman leaving her fiancé the day before our wedding.
Favorite lyric: “You had a speech, you’re speechless/ love slipped beyond your reaches/ And I couldn’t give a reason/ champagne problems”
Lauren: THIS SONG. This is a lyrical masterpiece that draws the listener into the story that is sung to melodious piano. This is the song that I scream in my car, as if I’m singing to a packed concert stadium, which always makes people next to me at stop lights look at me a little weirdly. When you listen to this song, you can literally feel the emotions of the characters. Taylor Swift turns the basic plot of a rejected proposal into something so much deeper, with mesmerizing visuals and stunning lyrics. Not only does this song tell an entire story about a rejected proposal but Swift also makes a commentary about how in society, mental health issues are usually seen with a stigma of not being a big deal, or a “champagne problem.”
Favorite lyric: “One for the money, two for the show / I never was ready so I watch you go” (it was very difficult for me to just pick one lyric)
Track 3: gold rush
Kathryn: This song has grown on me a lot. It was not my favorite at first but I really don’t know why because it is a fantastic song. The beat is fun and the lyrics are catchy. Every time I am in the car with my friends I play this song- it’s a new rule in my car. The song itself is about wanting a person that so many other people also want, so they try to stop themselves from fantasizing about a life with them. I can relate to this song because when I was younger, I used to really believe that I would grow up to marry Niall Horan or Zayn Malik from One Direction, which, sadly, will not likely happen (watch out Gigi Hadid, I’m coming for your man) so my childhood dreams were crushed and I have since been forced to come to terms with reality.
Favorite lyric: “And then it fades into the grey of my day-old tea/ ‘cause it could never be”
Lauren: The very first time I listened to this album, this song immediately became my favorite. I love the punchy beat and the lyrics. The chorus is definitely my favorite part. This is one of the few songs from this album that I listen to when working out. The whole concept of being jealous over an unattainable crush is so relatable to everyone but Taylor Swift makes it classy. She also manages to use the word “contrarian” in this song, which is great for my SAT vocabulary prep.
Favorite lyric: “I don’t like a gold rush, gold rush / I don’t like anticipatin’ my face in a red flush”
Track 4: ‘tis the damn season
Kathryn: Taylor releasing this right before Christmas really saved the holiday in my opinion. While this song may not be on anyone else’s holiday playlist, it is on mine. The song is about someone coming back to their hometown and rekindling an old flame with someone, but only for the holiday. It has been said that it is the narrative of what happens when Dorthea comes back from Hollywood (Dorthea is from another song on this album- Taylor loves to add storylines throughout her pieces) which I love. Like “champagne problems”, this song makes me feel like I too have gone back to my nonexistent small town after making it big in LA and meeting back up with my highschool sweetheart that also does not exist. The listener can really feel the longing that Taylor has put into this song- longing for an old life, an old lover or for the path that they did not take. Further, Taylor references her song “The Way I Loved You” from the album Fearless within the song.
Favorite lyric: “And I wonder about the only soul/ who can tell which smile I’m faking/ and the heart i know I’m breaking is my own” (This ties to lyrics from TWILY where Taylor sings “He can’t see the smile I’m faking/ And my heart’s not breaking/ ‘Cause I’m not feeling anything at all”)
Lauren: Kathryn said that this song “saved the holiday” and let me just say that she could not be more correct. While it isn’t a typical Christmas song, it tells the tale of a different kind of holiday tradition: returning home. I think what makes this song so gripping is the pure emotion that flows through the lyrics. Also, as we’ve already established, Taylor is a lyrical genius and this song is further evidence of that fact.
Fav lyric: “There’s an ache in you, put there by the ache in me”
Track 5: tolerate it
Kathryn: This song breaks my heart. It details how the narrator knows everything about the other person and dedicates so much of themselves to them but it is never reciprocated, only tolerated. The lyrics are extremely vulnerable and they further cement Taylor’s place as number one on the list of best lyricists of this generation. This song is on all of my sad playlists and I can only listen to it in certain moments because it is so incredibly sad.
Favorite lyric: “Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life/ Drawing hearts in the byline”
Lauren: I will never stop singing the praises of this song (get it? singing?). The lyrics are absolutely unparalleled and I did not expect anything less from track 5 (which, if you know Taylor Swift, you know she always puts her most vulnerable song as track 5). I have never heard another song that is so poignant or gut-wrenching. The story of giving your all to someone that isn’t even paying attention is completely heartbreaking. This song is tragic but in the best way possible.
Favorite lyric: “Took this dagger in me and removed it / Gain the weight of you, then lose it”
Track 6: no body, no crime (Ft. HAIM)
Kathryn: This song is further proof that Taylor Swift and Harry Styles committed vehicular manslaughter in 2012. Someone needs to get the FBI on this because the evidence in their songs are just getting a little too specific. (If anyone is confused, there is a conspiracy theory that they killed someone by hitting them with their car and had to cover it up and now they leave hints in their songs. Is it a substantial theory? Not really. Is it fun to think about? Absolutely.) The song takes us back to her days of country music with help from the Haim sisters and Taylor’s love for crime TV shows. It details how Este (one of the Haim sisters) realizes her husband is cheating on her, so the narrator (Taylor) helps…get rid of him and leave behind no evidence. The song is fantastic and one of my favorites on this album but the police sirens in the back have scared me while driving every single time the song has played in the car.
Favorite lyric: “Good thing my daddy made me get a boating license when I was fifteen/ And I’ve cleaned enough houses to know how to cover up a scene”
Lauren: This song is a MASTERPIECE and I cannot stress that enough. Taylor’s return to her country roots was perfectly done in this intricately detailed story. I feel like I just watched an entire movie after listening to the three minutes and 36 seconds of this song. It is like “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood but 100000 times better. Taylor, who has been criticized in the past for writing too many love songs, tells a different love story in this song, one that ends in revenge and murder instead of happily ever after. It deserves all the accolades it has received and more.
Favorite lyric: “Her husband’s actin’ different and it smells like infidelity / She says, “That ain’t my Merlot on his mouth / That ain’t my jewelry on our joint account” (I am amazed that she managed to rhyme “mouth” with “account”)
Track 7: happiness
Kathryn: Oh gosh, this song HURTS. If you have ever had a relationship of any kind not work out, you will be able to relate to this song. In “happiness”, Taylor writes about a failed relationship and how there was love and happiness in the beginning and how even though it is now over, both parties will one day get those feelings back, just maybe not with each other again. Taylor writes about the great parts of the relationship and how she is angry at the other person for what happened but she won’t ignore that it was great and will be great again. I love that she mentions “the new me” in the song in different stages. She first says that she has not met the new ‘her’ yet and near the end she says that she has met the new ‘her’ and the new ‘her’ would give the other person her forgiveness. Taylor did a great job of writing about growth and how you change after relationships.
Favorite lyric: “I can’t make it go away by making you a villain/ I guess it’s the price I paid for seven years in heaven”
Lauren: The name “happiness” is very deceiving because you would think that this is a “happy” song but in reality, this is one of the most heart-rending songs on this album. The pain of the end of a relationship, combined with the bitter joy that came from the toxic relationship make this song so powerful. While it is ultimately a song of hope and growth, it is still melancholic. I would also just like to reiterate Taylor’s lyrical paragon, which shines through in this song.
Favorite lyric: “From the dress I wore at midnight, leave it all behind / And there is happiness”
Track 8: dorthea
Kathryn: The prologue to “‘tis the damn season”, “dorthea” is misplaced on the track list for this album. I think it should have been placed before TTDS if for nothing but to help the storyline. Regardless, it is a pretty good song, just not my favorite. It still sits rather low on my list, mainly because I don’t really like the name Dorthea being repeated so much within the song, which tells the story of Dorthea leaving her hometown to chase her big Hollywood dreams and is told from the point of view of an old flame. I like how it might be a metaphor to Taylor’s personal life before she really went big and how some of her old friends would welcome her back with non judgemental and open arms if she ever wishes to go back to Nashville. It honestly reminds me a bit of the Disney show Liv and Maddie and Liv is Dorthea in the song, leaving Ridgepoint to star in Sing It Loud in LA.
Favorite lyric: “When it was calmer, skipping the prom just to piss off your mom and her pageant schemes/ And damn Dorthea, they all wanna be ya/ But are you still the same soul I met under the bleachers?”
Lauren: This song is so peaceful, from the melody to the lyrics. The whole idea of someone (Dorothea) leaving her small town and chasing her dreams in Hollywood seems to accurately reflect Taylor’s life story (left her small town to become an international pop sensation). I also like the subtle reference to Dorothy (Dorothea versus Dorothy) from The Wizard of Oz, who also found herself in a new place. Also, it fits perfectly with “‘tis the damn season” but this song is from the perspective of the lover that Dorothea is visiting in track 4. It is not my favorite on this album, but I would say only because the other songs are so much better in comparison.
Favorite lyric: “Ooh, you’re a queen sellin’ dreams, sellin’ makeup and magazines / Ooh, from you, I’d buy anything / Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?”
Track 9: coney island (Ft. The National)
Kathryn: Unpopular opinion: The National should not have been on this track; it should have just been Taylor. However, the song is great. It references most of her big breakups throughout her time in the spotlight during the bridge, which I love because I get to hate Jake Gyllenhal and John Mayer in the same song. The song is about a relationship ending and both parties feeling sorry about what happened while simultaneously wondering what went wrong because they used to be so great. The bridge is where it gets juicy, with Taylor referencing her break ups with Jake Gyllenhal, John Mayer, Harry Styles and Calvin Harris. As any Swiftie knows, Jake and John (those J names will always break your heart) are arguably the worst boyfriends Taylor has ever had, so getting a song with both of them in it is a masterpiece. I love this song.
Favorite lyric: “Were you standing in a hallway/ with a big cake, happy birthday/ did I paint your bluest skies the darkest grey?” (Jake and John, just know you share the spot of Public Enemy No. 1 to me.)
Lauren: I like The National on this; I think Matt Berninger’s deep voice perfectly contrasts Taylor’s and helps the conversational lyrics flow back and forth between the two people in the relationship. Obviously the references to her breakups with her past ex-boyfriends, something that the media has often criticized her for, elevate this song, as well as the references to her other songs. Not only is Taylor the queen of lyrics but she is also the queen of hidden Easter eggs and double meanings in her lyrics, as proven by this song.
Favorite lyric: “And do you miss the rogue / Who coaxed you into paradise and left you there?”
Track 10: ivy
Kathryn: Forget what I said about “champagne problems”, this is my favorite song of all time. In fact, if you check my Spotify stats you will see that it is one of my most played songs since I have had Spotify. I LOVE this song. I could write a dissertation on this song. The only problem though is that this song makes me feel like my husband is dead and I have to move on, which is what I am almost 100% sure this song is about. Taylor is singing about a dead husband and how she has found someone else but she’s scared to pursue them because of her past. Another interpretation is that there is an affair going on and she doesn’t know what she is to do. Either way, this song is a masterpiece. This is one of her most lyrically powerful songs in my opinion just because of the sheer emotion in the piece. I love how she references her relationship with current boyfriend Joe Alwyn in lines like “I wish to know/ The fatal flaw that makes you long to be/ Magnificently cursed” which is alluding to her quote about how nobody would sign up to date her because of everything that comes with her fame. The singing is relatively soft but powerful and the emotion that is conveyed is incredible.
Favorite lyric: “Spring breaks loose, but so does fear/ He’s gonna burn this house to the ground”
Lauren: I know I have said a lot of songs on this album are amazing (because they are) but this one is my favorite of all time. Of. All. Time. The melody is the perfect combination of fast beats and slow pace, which make it so satisfying to listen to, like soothing water. In this song, she sings about a dead husband and the torment between grieving and falling in love with someone else. I could listen to this song all day. Also, there are just so many ways to analyze her lyrics and I find myself unconsciously dissecting every line, using those English critical thinking skills (shoutout to my English teachers).
Favorite lyric: “So yeah, it’s a fire / It’s a goddamn blaze in the dark”
Track 11: cowboy like me
Kathryn: This is another song that has to be played in my car every time I get in it. CLM is another song that makes me reminisce a little more about Taylor’s country era with the string-instrument twangs in the backing track and the tempo of the song. In the song, Taylor sings about finding someone that is like her that she knows will not end well, leaving her to ‘never love again’. I really love this track because of the imagery she uses throughout as well as the references she makes to other songs of hers. Songs from her album Reputation are referenced as well as songs from her album Lover. Taylor’s allusion to swindling rich people for all of their money by pretending to love them is entertaining to think about, considering she herself is a rich person. Taylor, if you are reading this, I volunteer to be the one to swindle you out of all of your money but I do actually love you. I’ve been a Swiftie since I was a child.
Favorite lyric: “With my boots beneath the bed/ Forever is the sweetest con”
Lauren: This is one of those songs that gets better every time you listen to it. While it isn’t my favorite, I do love how the arrangement gradually builds up. There is a little hint of Taylor’s country days here, which is a nice surprise, especially because this album is so far down her evolutionary path as an artist. The plot in this song seems similar to Will Smith and Margo Robbie’s movie “Focus” which is about two con artists who fall in love. However, Taylor is able to make these bandits in love seem so classy and elegant.
Favorite lyric: “Perched in the dark / Telling all the rich folks anything they wanna hear / Like it could be love”
Track 12: long story short
Kathryn: Long story short, Kimye got what they had coming for them Taylor! This song is her comeback- forget about the Reputation album. “Long story short” is all about Taylor’s struggle with the media and its perception of her that subsequently led to her going into a hiding of sorts for a year before releasing Reputation. This song seems to be like a letter to that version of herself, saying that it will all work out and that she was strong enough to get through it all. It makes me proud to be a swiftie. LSS really hits differently after we all learned the truth about the Kim/Kanye/Taylor drama and especially now that Taylor is getting love from the media again. Detached from Taylor Swift’s personal dramas, this song is actually really relatable, at least for me. I think it is a great song to listen to if you are going through or are out of a tough situation because it’s empowering and can help you convince yourself that you will beat whatever challenges you face and that you are strong enough to get through it. This song also, like most Taylor songs, references her previous works to show how she has changed since then, such as her reference to the song “Mirrorball” which has a line about Taylor wearing her highest heels for her love, which is contradicted in this song by Taylor singing “if the shoe fits, walk in it/ ‘till your high heels break” to show that she is doing what she wants to do for herself now.
Favorite lyric: “Your nemeses/ Will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing”
Lauren: This song and “ivy” tie for my favorite of this album. I love the idea that Joe Alwyn, her current boyfriend, is her solace from the public demonization that came from her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. I’m a romantic at heart and this makes me believe in love so strong that it can withstand the media’s scrutiny. I love all the references to her other songs, like how she sings “And I fell from the pedestal / Right down the rabbit hole” which refers to her song “Wonderland” (one of my favorites as well) from her album 1989. The beat in this song is also a fast enough pace that I have added this song to my running playlist, which is always a win in my book. Also, to add to my list of vocabulary words that Taylor Swift is teaching me, a precipice (which she sings in the chorus of this song) is “a very steep rock face or cliff” (from Oxford Languages).
Favorite lyric: “When I dropped my sword / I threw it in the bushes and knocked on your door” (second favorite lyric because I couldn’t pick just one: “As he’s passing by / Rare as the glimmer of a comet in the sky / And he feels like home”)
Track 13: marjorie
Kathryn: I know that this song is about her late grandmother and it is very sweet but I can’t listen to it a whole lot. Partly because it makes me think about my own late grandmother and partly because I have not really found a playlist of mine that it fits in. I debated putting it in my “frog dissection day in science class” playlist as a joke but ultimately decided against doing so. It has some very touching lyrics and is a beautiful tribute to Marjorie Finlay and Taylor really did a fantastic job on it. She really encapsulates the emotions one feels after losing someone very close to them, like wishing you kept more things from them as small as a receipt just so you have something more of them.
Favorite lyric: “Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt/ Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me”
Lauren: If I had one word to describe this song, it would be “beautiful.” This song is a tribute to Taylor’s grandmother, Majorie (the matching track in “folklore” is about her grandfather) and it is just so moving. The fact that her grandmother’s voice is used as background vocals in this song and credited is touching and it adds a poignant note. The raw emotion in this song makes it so vulnerable and relatable, as most of us have lost someone in our lives. The bridge is my favorite part; I highly recommend everyone to listen carefully to those lyrics.
Favorite lyric: “All your closets of backlogged dreams / And how you left them all to me”
Track 14: closure
Kathryn: Though regarded as many’s least favorite on the album, this song holds a special place in my heart. Closure seems to be about an ex that is reaching out to Taylor but she is not responding because she does not need to or want to- she is doing better on her own. Some say it is full of references to her problems with Scooter Braun (it pains me to even type his name) and his recent letter to Taylor stating he sold her masters. I love the anger that is shown in this song and how Taylor is being unapologetically over the whole situation. It is very relatable for a lot of people, myself included. She acknowledges that after rough things, you do not have to stay with the other person in any regards and you don’t owe it to anyone but yourself to decide that.
Favorite lyric: “Yes, I got your letter/ Yes, I’m doing better”
Lauren: I absolutely love this song; it is definitely in my top 5 songs of this album. The beginning beats contrast the soft instrumental in this song but that juxtaposition makes it so much better. I love how this song shows a different side to a breakup, one that showcases being over it, instead of crying over a boy, showing her personal growth. She is so indifferent in this song; I love it. Personally, I related to this song the most, which is why I love it so much. It is added is almost all of my Spotify playlists, as it works for almost any mood I’m in (it’s just that good). In a way, it is empowering, as she is saying that she is over the relationship, it is done and she is not going to dwell over it any longer.
Favorite lyric: “Guilty, guilty, reaching out across the sea / that you put between you and me / but it’s fake and it’s oh so unnecessary”
Track 15: evermore (Ft. Bon Iver)
Kathryn: The closing track to evermore, Taylor brought back Bon Iver and I could not be happier. The duo gave us “exile” in folklore and it shredded my heart into tiny little pieces and threw them on the ground so I knew that this song would be good before I even heard it. They did not disappoint. The song is a poignant ballad about how after everything, it seems as though it will never get better. In comes Mr. Justin Vernon to save the day and introduce a semblance of hope. Unlike the eternal heartbreak of “exile”, my musical parents gave everyone a ray of sunshine, though a tad bleak against the black clouds they introduced in the beginning, at the end to show everyone that the pain will not be evermore! It will get better! And after 2020, I think we all needed to hear that.
Favorite lyrics: “To be certain/ We’ll be tall again”
Lauren: After “exile” in her previous album with Bon Iver (which was a masterpiece if I’ve ever heard one; 10/10 would recommend listening if you haven’t), I am so excited that Taylor brought them back. When Justin Vernon started singing, literal goosebumps ran up my arms, especially when they started going back and forth (chills). Their voices are perfect together; at this point, they should just start a band together. This titular track perfectly encapsulates the entire theme of evermore, while also diving deeper into the theme of mental health, which is very important and often not talked about as much as it should be. Every single lyric in this song is so powerful and it ends with a message of hope, which is so eloquent and something that we all need to hear.
Favorite lyric: “I replay my footsteps on each stepping stone / trying to find the one where I went wrong / Writing letters / addressed to the fire”
Taylor Alison Swift, lyrical genius, queen of Easter eggs and maker of masterpieces, has outdone herself again. Her evolution from country to pop to alternative was unexpected but incredibly well done, as each era of Taylor Swift has come with its own powerhouse of vocals and lyrics, as well as its own aesthetic. While we thought that folklore would be the last of indie Swift, evermore turned out to exceed all expectations we had.