July 23rd, 2020, was a blisteringly hot Thursday that we were all wishing was a Friday. Then, the news broke. Taylor Swift was releasing a new album at midnight. People went mad. Social media went into a frenzy.
And then there was me, in the corner, mildly ambivalent to the news. Don’t get me wrong, I like Taylor Swift, but the dropping of a surprise album gave me flashbacks to Beyoncé’s drop of Lemonade—and that, friends, was epic. I was unmoved by Taylor’s marketing tactics and went about my day.
The next morning, I was confronted with endless Instagram posts with captions pulled from the new songs on the album. Maybe they’re all going nuts from being indoors, maybe our entertainment bar is set low these days, or maybe, just maybe, this album is unbelievable. I had to see what all the hype was about. I downloaded the album, and here is my takeaway:
Whether you are a lifelong Taylor Swift fan, or you don’t like her music, you need to listen to this album.
From the first track, you can tell there’s a marked difference in the production, sound, voice, tone, and overall attitude of the singer and her project. Folklore is a departure from Taylor’s sugary sweet pop songs (and sometimes cringe-worthy lyrics) that have made me flip to another radio station at one time or another. These new songs are poetic, catchy, substantive, and work together so well on the album that, as much as I hate to admit it, listening to all of Folklore in order is nearly an immersive experience. Below are, in my opinion, the best tracks in the album if you’re looking to dip your toes in without committing to downloading all of Folklore to your phone:
“Exile” is, without question, my favorite track. Bon Iver is featured and does most of the heavy lifting in the song. The lyrics are painful—in the best way possible. If you’ve ever experienced a rough breakup, this song was made for you.
This floaty and light song starts out a bit underwhelming, but as the song progresses and becomes more layered, it emerges a quick favorite from the album. The lyrics are deeply personal and relatable. On my first listen, I didn’t realize how much I liked this track, but after a couple replays it’s an absolute favorite.
Before even listening to the lyrics, this track just hits you. It feels powerful and, at the same time, tranquil. When you do pay attention to the lyrics, which many are saying speak to frontline healthcare workers in the COVID crisis, “Epiphany” becomes deeply emotional and moving. This is definitely a song you need to listen to more than once to unpack everything it has to offer.
While those are my top three picks, there are really no losers on Folklore. I have never been a diehard fan of Taylor Swift, but if this is the caliber of her music moving forward, consider me a convert.
What did you think of Taylor Swift’s new album? Let us know in the comments below.