On new record, Taylor Swift proves she is a masterful storyteller

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Taylor Swift’s new record, “Evermore,” comes just five months after the release of her last one.

Lindsay Bonetti, News Editor

Back on her 2013 hit album, Red, Taylor Swift mocked her ex-boyfriend’s “indie record that was much cooler than (hers).” But now with the surprise release of her ninth studio album, Evermore, it’s evident that Taylor Swift can make her own indie folk-pop album that’s far from just “cool.”

Considering that less than five months have elapsed since Swift unexpectedly dropped her genre-shifting, critically acclaimed record Folklore, fans no doubt had reservations: Would it be just a collection of songs that did not make the cut for Folklore? Was her first strike into the alternative pop world just beginner’s luck? Had the novelty of this sound worn off?

Fans will find their apprehensions swiftly depart as soon as they hear the first song.

In what Swift calls the “sister album” to Folklore, the Evermore album is just as lyrically captivating and sonically charming in narrating the type of fantasies one dreams up before falling asleep or the deepest of fears that are felt universally.

A fresh set of intricate characters and clever storylines, complimented by Swift’s infamous autobiographical reflections, prove once again that she is, to the bone, a masterful storyteller.

Throughout Evermore, Swift catches the emotional strife of characters at significant crossroads who decide that their `pain wouldn’t be for evermore,’ as professed on the title track.”

As on Folklore, Swift returns to using entertaining character arcs to link songs together. In “Dorothea” and “ ‘Tis the Damn Season,” a small-town girl who had big Hollywood dreams reunites with her high school love when she visits her family for the holidays. At times it nears sounding too cliché, but the underlying cynicism Swift displays towards the corrupting Los Angeles culture ultimately makes Dorothea and her beloved’s meeting under the bleachers and reminiscing about ditching the prom seem all the more profound.

Swift does eventually stray from the dramatic love-triangles of naive teenagers and dips into infidelity within married adults on tracks like “Ivy.” Yet, matched ingeniously with an effervescent tambourine, guitar-plucking melody and imagery of springtime and adolescence in lyrics like, “I can’t stop you putting roots in my dreamland / My house of stone, your ivy grows / And now I’m covered in you,” the song illustrates that no matter how mature we think we are, our nature desires the spirit and excitement felt by youthful love. 

“Champagne Problems,” though, is the album’s high point and encapsulates all that Evermore is. Backed with simple piano production, Swift pens the conflicting sensations of guilt and freedom, shame and apathy, felt by a woman turning down a proposal by her college sweetheart in front of his family, somehow unlocking feelings of empathy and vulnerability within me — a 17-year-old high schooler who has never even experienced a serious relationship. 

Throughout Evermore, Swift catches the emotional strife of characters at significant crossroads who decide that their “pain wouldn’t be for evermore,” as professed on the title track, featuring indie-folk icon Bon Iver.

Welcoming a deceased grandmother’s wisdom to “never be so polite, you forget your power / Never wield such power, you forget to be polite” on the heart-wrenching ballad “Marjorie.” Reinventing oneself with optimism after being hurt in a relationship on “Happiness.” Even murdering a friend’s cheating husband in the true-crime inspired tune “No Body, No Crime,” for those into the country subgenre of avenging abusive, unfaithful men.

But Swift herself does not seem to be at a crossroads on Evermore. She sounds undeniably more confident, having discovered a beautiful niche that allows her to continue telling personal stories without oversharing about her private life to be scrutinized by the public. She says on “Long Story Short” that she was “pushed from the precipice / climbed right back up the cliff / long story short, I survived.”

So, Swift’s second indie record is much greater than “cool.” It’s intensely melancholy, yet refreshingly hopeful; sentimental and idealistic, yet it brings us back to reality. It’s simply Swift at her best once again.