Album Review: ‘folklore’ Is An Indie Album Much Cooler Than Yours

Taylor Swift's Folklore Album Cover Cropped

Upon waking up this morning, I fixed myself a cup of coffee. I spilled said coffee everywhere, cleaned it up, and got another cup to listen to Taylor Swift’s new album “folklore” first thing. Taylor Swift has created an indie album that is much cooler than others thought possible by blending her country roots and her pop aspirations from her “1989” album. If one is looking to get up and dance this morning, they are not going to find that type of energy in this album. Instead, fans are going to hear an extremely vulnerable Swift played alongside melodic piano instrumentals. However, “folklore” possesses an emotional venture that is not afraid to go dark and remain mellow at the same time. A feat that is not easy to achieve by any means, and she manages to pull this off with a poetic folky gusto.

While this album has brought on a lot of speculation so far, Swift admits via a letter in the following tweet that the record is not based entirely on her own life. The track “betty” if anything else proves that in a lyric where she sings from the point of view from a guy named James. In many ways, I have to give props to her because she has a way of turning people into detectives when it comes to her songs. Fans are already debating whether boyfriend Joe Alwyn helped her write two songs or if they have broken up. Knowing what the letter says about the album, I think there will be some surprise for the latter being the unequivocal truth, but anything is possible.

There are many gems on the album “folklore” that deserve praise. My favorite song is “mad woman,” which I think will ring true for most women. The lyrics that strike me the most are not the ones being talked about already, but the chorus instead. “And there’s nothing like a mad woman / What a shame she went mad / No one likes a mad woman / You made her like that / And you’ll poke that bear ’til her claws come out / And you find something to wrap your noose around,” stands out to me the most. Instead of respecting that we might genuinely be angry about what is going on to us or around us, yet we hear phrases from men that consist of “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it,” or “You need to calm down, it’s not that serious.

Although men in power might not like us angry, considering women still have to fight for equal pay in this world against their male counterparts, we have every right to be angry. We deserve to be heard and not be gaslit when we finally snap in anger. It’s the reason I love the song so much because it speaks to me on that level. A lot of women will not say something for fear that when they do, they are going to be hushed, but we have to start standing up for ourselves now more than ever. I hope that women, young and old alike, will listen to the other lyrics in this song to know that’s okay.

the last great american dynasty” has reminiscents and staying power of Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane,” if Diane divorced Jack, and she got accused of ruining everything. The ending of the song is quite poetic and justice filled as if the Rebekah she speaks of finally has her say and stands her ground and owns the faults laid upon her even if they were not entirely on her. The lyrics for “my tears ricochet” are beyond haunting as the song embodies an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of affection,” according to Swift via a Youtube live chat. One can picture the man walking into the funeral home and up to the casket, leaning over and cursing the person for leaving him even though, as the song states, “And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?

These two songs grip you tight and take you along for a ride that makes you honestly think about the chosen words of one’s past. Do they mean what they once said before? And even if they don’t, once people believe such can you genuinely get rid of them?

Folklore’s “in the trees” Edition Cover Art Cropped

I could honestly go on forever about these songs because they each have the power to touch a person’s inner soul. They all dive into various times in people’s lives that might not be that pretty, but also reveal that they managed to come out on the other side.  I think in many ways, despite the songs not being about Taylor’s personal life entirely, the album had to be therapeutic to Swift. “hoax” is a prime example. In many ways, I think that the lyrics “Stood on the cliffside screaming, “Give me a reason” / Your faithless love’s the only hoax I believe in” is a shot out to the devotion of her fans during her darkest hour. Some cold speculate her darkest hour correlating to the release of her “Reputation” album.

Regardless of what one might think of Taylor Swift personally, “folklore” proves she is the queen of reinventing herself while remaining true to herself. I’d even venture to say that this is her best album yet, and considering it’s her eighth studio album, that speaks volumes of her staying power. The whole album deserves the praise it has received from many critics in the industry and more. Honorable mentions that might end up underappreciated on this album include “august” as well as “peace.”

Fans can watch the music video for the sure-fire hit “cardigan” and learn how to purchase Swift’s latest album here.

“folklore” is available today for purchase and can be streamed via Spotify in addition to Apple Music.