Folklore by Taylor Swift: A Swerve Into A New Narrative

Updated On 2nd September 2020

The beginning of a new era, a lissome look back at her old roots, but with an indie tinge, construes Taylor Swift’s 8th studio album, “Folklore”. A surprise drop of the 16-track long alternative record stunned the fans of its glaring new sound, as well as the uncharacteristic move from Swift to release an album amidst a pandemic with zero fanfare. “Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen !” she says on her announcement post regarding the sudden release.

An Artistic Aversion

Evading from the usual promotional strategies of marketing an album, she delves into delivering a diary of intimate tracks, with transient lyricism, and soft sonic blues. Indie folk is a genre that’s often nebulous and overshadowed by radio hits of the bombastic pop songs, a style Swift is generally known to be a part of, with her pop albums-“1989”, “reputation” and most recently “Lover”.

With Folklore, Taylor engages in a more mellow, mature sound, omitting the sanguine and embracing the somber.
One can argue that the switch of production was what marked the sonic alteration, from her previous hyper polished pop producer Max Martin to a progressively somber alternative guitarist Aron Dessner, from The National, but more importantly, folklore as the title suggests, turned head of numerous critics from various genres, in reference to a “new tone” everyone says she adopted, claiming such a sultry sound to be a new turn in her discography of 14 years. Such claims are cited by people who don’t follow the mainstream genre, or not too familiar with Swift’s musical history down the lane, except for her upbeat chart-topping hits that frequently hit the radio.

The dismissal of pop as a genre is what tainted the massive positivity Folklore received within its first few hours of release. However, analyzing her songwriting process throughout her career, the folksy take that she adopted for this album is not new at all, but a revisit of her old roots, but through a different looking glass. The absence of the pop flare and its brightness, its lack of catchy hooks or EDM beats to bop your heads to, is what progressively made the album reach the nook of curiosity, a record to venture, a journey to look into.

Verses In Black And White

In the album cover, You can spot her, but barely amidst the grandeur of woods, she looks lost, in a haze, mirroring her emotions on the album, through a soft rock muted production.

Folklore throws you into a dark mystical haze, experiencing sweet conundrums of heartbreak and respite, of remorse and revival, of Innocence and recklessness, all backed by love. Its a kind of storytelling where she has “poured all my whims, dreams, fears and musings into.” Each song dives into the depth of a delicate story, told from perspectives of characters Swift has created in her mind. This is a radical detour from her usual lyrics, which narrated the zigzags of her own personal life. Here, the narrative scope widens into different imaginary personas telling their own tales :
” An exiled man walking the bluffs of a land that isn’t his own, wondering how it all went so terribly wrong. An embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession. A seventeen-year-old standing on a porch, learning to apologize. Lovestruck kids wandering up and down the evergreen High Line. My grandfather, Dean, landing a Guadalcanal in 1942. A misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out.” , Swift elaborates on her the stories she knitted together into the wondrous album “Folklore”.

A Musical Story Passed Down

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As folklores denote tales passed down through generations, this album poignantly casts upon listeners tales on different individuals, while also feeling more personal and warmer than her previous albums.
With the robust production and the quintessential upbeat synths being toned down into quaint strummings of guitar and quiet pianos on this album, people focused on the lyrical spectrum of each and every song, embrace the poetry that Taylor already portrayed in the majority of her albums so far.

A Swift Transition

Quarantine indeed brought the most intimate, isolated songwriting out of Taylor. A different kind of compassion, angst, and sentiment exudes through her musical tales. That being said, she is known to switch up genres with every few albums she releases, from the cowgirl Country “Fearless” to the massive chart-topping pop “1989”, to the dark “reputation”, and finally to the sultry indie “Folklore”. Anticipating what her next choice of style is gonna be; whether she sticks to this alternative folk genre or again switch up into a different artistic take, is something we all look forward to.