The cover of the album “Folklore” (2020) by Taylor Swift
The cover, gothic, almost worthy of the aesthetics of a Norwegian metal band, announces the color. If Taylor Swift had chosen pink for the visual universe of her album Lover (2019), she abandons it for a black and white forest in which she seems lost, lonely and tiny. This is not the only surprise reserved by Folklore (released in July 2020), eighth album, announced just hours before its release. There are 16 tracks of melancholic folk contrasting with the hits cut for the stadiums and the festivals of the singer. To complete his transformation, Taylor called on his musical heroes: Bon Iver, Aaron Dessner (from The National), Ben Lanz (from Beirut) and Jack Antonoff, who previously worked with St. Vincent, Lorde and Lana Del Rey. We often think of the interpreter of Video Games (2012) on bittersweet tracks like the single Cardigan.
Taylor Swift describes her eighth album as a collection of songs into which she poured all her whims, dreams, fears and thoughts. This new universe, sober, moving and authentic could attract new fans. She returns to the purity of a certain country, the genre that made her famous, with ballads like Seven Where Mirrorball. We sometimes also think of Dolly Parton, the Carpenters and Kate Bush on the dreamlike Epiphany, a powerful title in which we discover a voice capable of reaching new heights. For storytelling, the artist even manages to get closer to a Bob Dylan with the epic The Last Great American Dynasty. There is no tube on Folkflorabut poetic songs centered on the guitar and the piano that touch the heart.
Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan” (2020) video
Taylor Swift wrote and recorded Folklore in confinement, in April 2020, when it was not planned. Deprived of touring, she perfectly transcribed the anxiety of the period. Although she mostly talks, in the lyrics, as usual, about thwarted romances and not about the state of society, Folklore is the ideal soundtrack to a restless world. While many artists have decided to postpone the release of their disc to the start of the school year, for the author of shake it off (2014), it was important to release this opus of spontaneous reinvention during the pandemic crisis. She said: “The times we live in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut tells me that if you’re doing something you love, you should just bring it into the world. This is the side of uncertainty that I can rally with.”
That didn’t stop the singer from thinking big. For the first video from Folklore, Cardiganwhich looks like a Disney fairy tale, she called on Rodrigo Prieto, director of photography who worked with Martin Scorsese and Ang Lee (on The Secret of Brokeback Mountain in 2005). And the album, which was released on vinyl, CD and cassette has eight different covers. With his new disc, Midnights (2022), written during sleepless nights, Taylor Swift continues her journey towards a sharper and ever more ambitious and intimate moult. Surrounded by Lana Del Rey (on a beautiful duet) and Zoë Kravitz (who appears in the songwriting credits of two tracks), the 32-year-old singer now seems musically closer to the early Billie Eilish than to a Lady Gaga. or an Ariana Grande.
Folklore (2020) by Taylor Swift, available on all platforms [Republic Records].